The votes are in and have been counted and although it’s just a bit of fun really a champion has been declared the 2019 Readers Poll winner!
One of most popular releases of the year and it showed as they romped home as champions quite safely in the end. In true Mickey Rickshaw style they didn’t ask their fans to vote for them and even agreed with us that the #1 Celtic-Punk album of the year was The Walker Roaders. A very talented yet humble bunch of guys with a great future ahead of them. Well done fellas.
You can stream Home In Song on the Bandcamp below before you part with your hard earned. We promise you it is well worth it.
A special edition of Home In Song is available from MacSlons Irish Shop featuring seven (!) bonus tracks from their acclaimed 16 Down And Back Again demo from 2013 previously only available as a download.
With nearly 500 votes cast for thirty (plus three that came out in 2018!) different releases from 2019 it’s been a much more interesting Poll than 2018’s for a variety of reasons.The vote was slightly down on the previous year but was spread among a much wider selection of releases and a lot more votes were cast in the ‘Other’ section than ever before too. Early on it looked likely to be a four horse race between early leaders Ferocious Dog, Mickey Rickshaw, Greenland Whalefishers and Pipes And Pints. As time went by The Rumjacks made it a five horse race but Mickey Rickshaw slowly but surely overtook Ferocious Dog at the top and in the end romped home comfortably by over thirty votes.
In fact the actual winner of the Poll was the ‘other’ section with 20% of all votes. They were spread among twenty-one releases but with Ny’ers The Templars Of Doom hitting 19 votes which lifted them into joint 9th place with McDermotts 2 Hours overall and Seth Mountain not far behind on 17 votes giving him 10th position pushing out The Narrowbacks with The Whipjacks, The Rumjacks and Tortilla Flat all just behind.
So onto 2020 we go and several ‘big’ bands are promising new albums so it all seems set to be another exciting year ahead of us in the Celtic-Punk scene so if you are in a band and have something planned be sure to let us know. We can’t review what we don’t hear of and why not consider subscribing (the form is on the left or below depending how you are viewing this page) and you won’t miss any posts.
Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)
How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.
The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying videotoo!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!
Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.
The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.
Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopediasite from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!
You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020
“Locations change, friends change, scenes change, but we always have a home in song”.
Boston’s Mickey Rickshaw have long been considered the future of Celtic-Punk by some (guilty!) so a couple of years on from Behind The Eight Ball could their third studio album live up to the weighty expectations we had put upon it? Well read on to see what our good man Marv thought of it.
For the uninitiated, according to their website, Mickey Rickshaw is a “high energy Celtic Punk band that plays fast and loud”. Hailing from Boston, home to so much great music, and with a couple of albums and EP’s under their collective belts (there are eight of them!), ‘Home In Song’ is their third and latest album, due for release soon.
With a heritage like that, and not ever coming across them before, I was excited to review this album. I mean they are from Boston, am I right?! But strangely, on first listen I didn’t take to it. I have no idea why that is. Perhaps I was tired or just feeling a bit odd, or perhaps it was because I was on the train on the way to work on a Monday morning. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t feeling the love. The first couple of tracks just didn’t work for me; the phrase “trying too hard” crossed my mind. Looking back now, I don’t understand it. I love the punkier end of the folk punk spectrum and these guys have raw folk punk oozing out of their pores. So I let the album run on, after all you can’t write off an album after a couple of tracks and it certainly wouldn’t make for a fair review. I am very glad that I did.
(The video for ‘Home In Song’ was shot in the very American Legion that the song was written about, which is now privately owned and operates as a recording studio, and venue, WAMLEG. Directed and edited by the bands own Mike Rivkees)
“And then the sun came up on another day and we found ourselves in time, abandoning a scene that we felt that we built together.
Disenfranchised kids who found a home in song.
Music with a fist- we played it for so long.
Best friends of our lives- formed the strongest bonds,
and now our heroes, they’re falling one by one.”
The sound is predominantly loud bass, overdriven electric guitars over manic drumming (their drummer sure does love his crash cymbals!), thrashy and powerful, with shouty vocals and mob-chorus harmonies. It’s hard to avoid comparisons with the Dropkicks, but these are no DKM wannabees. Think of ‘Buried Alive’ from the Dropkicks’ ‘Blackout’ crossed with some Stiff Little Fingers and you’ll be in the ballpark.
This album just builds and builds. It’s a bit like going to a gig on rainy wet Tuesday; it takes some time to forget about the water seeping in through your shoes. By track four, ‘Keep Afloat’ they take a deep breath, slow it down a tiny amount and say to themselves (I imagine) “Right boys, let’s get this done”. Because let me tell you, you soon forget about that downpour. From there on there is no let-up, no looking back; the power and the energy scream out of the speakers and by the time we get to track six, ‘Fang’, the boys are belting it out and taking no prisoners.
This is no fiddle-de-dee music, there is no shoegazing or worthy whistle solos here. This is hardcore and filthy folk-based punk make no mistake. The absolute artistry of these tracks though, is how every now and then they drop the guitars out for a bar or two and let the melody carry the music to remind you of its glorious roots. After the magnificent onslaught, it is a welcome and jarring break just for a second or two, then they hook you back in and bludgeon you into submission. I get the feeling the entire album is designed to soften you up for the final track, ‘Floodgates’. Even after all the preceding mayhem it takes the music on this magnificent album to a new level with a banshee of a pipes riff. It’s an absolute masterpiece, an exemplar for the genre and I keep going back to it time after time. I learnt something today; more traditional Celtic folk punk, dare I say more melodic folk punk, with its mandolins, banjos, fiddles and tin whistles may be a joy, but there is a place deep in my heart for the fast, dirty, uncompromising and brutal tunes of Mickey Rickshaw and their like.
Mickey Rickshaw left to right: Jimmy Donovan – Guitar * Chris Campbell – Drums * Jake Sullivan – Fiddle * Mike Rivkees – Lead Singer * Kyle Goyette – Bazouki * Shane Welch – Bagipe/Tin Whistle * Tom Donnelly – Guitar * Derek Dooley – Bass
I have re-listened to this album many times now and after a while I think I finally got it. No more did the first couple of track sound forced, the fault had always been entirely mine. They were just the first hesitant steps on a journey to a different destination. You can pick up Mickey Rickshaw’s previous albums from their Bandcamp page on a pay-what-you-like basis for which they have my utmost respect. Today was a school day.
The new album from the undisputed Kings Of Celtic-Punk hits the decks right across every corner of the globe. I never thought they’d ever come close to their out of this world debut album but as Shane O’Neill shows they have not only made an album to compete with Gangs Of New Holland but possibly even surpassed it!!!
To say we’ve been excited and eagerly awaiting the release of The Rumjacks new album is a major understatement. It’s no secret that we’re big Rumjacks fans (if not a little obsessed) over here at London Celtic Punks. True to form, The Rumjacks didn’t disappoint. This is another absolute crackin’ album – 42 minutes of pure brilliance. I haven’t been able to turn it off since I got my hands on it. Totally addictive! The album, Saints Preserve Us, is released on the tenth anniversary year of the band and what a way to mark the occasion. Originally formed in Sydney in 2008, the band recently set up camp in Europe and have been touring rigorously over the past few years. They have just kicked off their tenth anniversary tour which will be ripping through Europe and Asia over the next few months. The crowds and venues are getting bigger which is down to their hard work and of course the exceptional tunes they continue to churn out. This is their fourth studio album and the third to be released in the last three years. Over the past few weeks the band have been drip feeding with a few tracks to wet our appetite. First up was the title track and video, ‘Saints Preserve Us’.
This track is full of the energy we’ve become used to from the band. There’s also a hint of ska-punk on the track. This was followed up with ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ and ‘Cold London Rain’. All of this within a week!!! ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ is a cover of Matt McGinn’s folk tune. It features Paul McKenzie and Troy Zak from Canadian punks The Real McKenzies. And bhoy have they transformed this song…It’s been given a boost a speed with bagpipes thrown in for good measure.
The album features a host of guest appearances from the Celtic-Punk world with Mike Reeves of Mickey Rickshaw popping up again, after a recent spot on German band Kings & Boozers debut album, doing a spot of vocals on the second track ‘Billy McKinley’. The combination of vocals between Mike and Frankie on this track works wonders making this one hell of a tune. Other guests include Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone – Whistle & bagpipes), Robert Collins (Blood Or Whiskey – Trumpet & accordion), Angelo Roccato (The Clan – Guitar), Francesco Moneti (Modena City Ramblers – Fiddle), Denis Dowling (Clan of Celts – Guitar and backing vocals) and last, but definitely not least, our very own Shelby Colt (London Celtic Punks – backing vocals). Beat that!! The fourth track on the album is a rendition of ‘An poc ar Buile’ (The Mad Puck Goat). I’ve heard some of the traditional versions of this tune before but nothing anything quite like this. The song is almost entirely in Gaelic and played at a high tempo with bagpipes, which works well. I had trouble getting it out of my head a few nights.
It’s difficult to pick the best songs on this album. They’re all feckin’ brilliant. If I was pushed I’d have to say ‘A Smugglers Song’, ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘Billy McKinley’ and ‘Cupcake’ would be the favourites. ‘A Smugglers Song’ is a revisit to The Rumjack’s roots and you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been plucked from one of their early days EP’s. We’ve listened to quite a few Celtic-Punk bands here at London Celtic Punks and The Rumjacks are a tough act to follow. Everything they’ve released to date has been highly acclaimed throughout the Celtic-Punk world and they’re going from strength to strength. It’s widely accepted that their debut album Gangs of New Holland is probably the best Celtic Punk album to have even been released. I never thought another album would get anywhere close to it, however I have to say, Saints Preserve Us is most definitely a contender to knock it off the top spot. So there you go… Drop whatever you are doing and get your hands on a copy of Saints Preserve Us now.
The Rumjacks left to right: Top: Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitars, Vocals * Adam Kenny- Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki, Bodhran, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals. Bottom: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Frankie McLaughlin- Vocals, Tin-Whistle, Guitar * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals.
Also make sure you try to catch The Rumjacks in a town near you.
Ten years young so time for their debut album! German Celtic-rockers Kings & Boozers have Still Got the Booze !
Kings & Boozers are the latest band in the glorious history of German Celtic-Punk to feature here. Ten years young this year they were born out of the ashes of long time German scene stalwarts Lady Godiva who released several albums from 1994 to 2006 of a more folky version of Celtic-Punk. When they called it a day two bands would emerge with Muirsheen Durkin & Friends one (check out our review of their 2018 album here) which carried on in the same folky Irish vein as Lady Godiva and the much harder edged Kings & Boozers. Both new bands have a crossover of members so there’s a lot of co-operation between them but both have taken different routes on the Celtic-Punk highway and have delivered two completely different sounding albums.
Still Got The Booze is their debut release and we have a combination of covers, both well known and not so, traditional folk and fast rockin’ punk all taking their place. Kicking off with the short intro of a loser in a pub crying into his beer before the album really kicks off with the title song and ‘Still Got The Booze’ and sets the story of the band to a great Irish influenced folk-punk tune. Tin-whistle and accordion lead the Celtic side of things and singer Thomas has that raspy, 60 fags a day singing voice that a few German bands go for but also seems to fit the music so well. A real thigh slapper to start with before the first of three Lady Godiva songs are re-visited. Not knowing them I had a brief look through You Tube and can only guess they are beefed up a bit from those original versions. ‘One Whisky’ continues in the same vein.It’s high tempo and super catchy with the guitars and drums leading the Celtic instruments on a merry dance. ‘One Whiskey’ was also recorded by Muirsheen Durkin on their recent album and you could safely say is the folk opposite of the Boozers punky version. Thomas even sings both versions I think! Next up is one of my favourite songs and one I have been suggesting to bands to cover for years. ‘Bold Fenian Men’ has all the necessary parts to make it one of the most famous Irish rebel songs. Sacrifice and war and love abound in a song based on the aftermath of the failed 1916 uprising in Dublin against British occupation. Best known as played by Irish legends The Wolfe Tones the song was written by Peadar Kearney, who also wrote the Irish national anthem. The Boozers version keeps it slow but with chugging guitar and some excellent drums while Thomas is joined on vocals by Mike Rivkees of the Boston based ‘Celtic-Punk Next Big Thing’ Mickey Rickshaw.
“Some died by the glenside, some died near a stranger
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure
But they fought for old Ireland and never feared danger
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men”
This people is how to play a standard. The guys have a wicked sense of humour and show it next on ‘Seven Paddies in Berlin’. The song has already seen the light of day as it was featured on Raise Your Pints Volume 3- MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio sampler CD. Drugs and drink are taken as the Bhoys have a debauched trip to the German capital. Another Boozers & Kings composition follows with the slow and melancholic ‘Queen Of Hearts’ and every decent Celtic-Punk album needs at least one of these with Thomas singing of cards not women! A smattering of covers follow beginning with ‘Drunken Scotsman’ originally by Mike Cross, a naughty song about kilts that came out in the late 70’s and is given the Celtic-Punk treatment this is followed by another Lady Godiva tune ‘In God We Trust’. Again its played with a bit more bite and they nail it as their own.
When choosing their cover versions Boozers And Kings have done very well and were lucky on ‘The Raven’ to have the songs writers Gary Miller and Mick Tyas of The Whisky Priests along for the ride. The Whisky Priests were from County Durham in the north-east of England and were around from 1985 to 2002 and though very popular here at home they were absolutely massive over in Germany so it’s great to see them remembered and even greater news is that plans are afoot for their reformation of the band and tours, record re-releases and even new recordings are all in the planning stages. Renowned for their live shows and hectic touring schedule they built up a great reputation so its brilliant news that we’ll see them back playing live again soon.
The song is from the 1992 Timeless Street album and what they have produced is so much more than just a bog standard cover. The love and respect oozes from it and the tune itself is a worthy tribute to the soon to be back with us again Whisky Priests. It’s fast and that unmistakable north-eastern England sound that differentiates it from the Irish influenced folk of the Boozers. A great song telling of a bastard who grows from child to man and only ever changes when the full moon shines.
“His heart was made like an evil blade
Hard steel with a thirsty lust for blood
His soul dwelt on the dark side of the grave
And his body held no love”
Again it’s catchy as hell and leads us nicely into a cover of the ever popular ‘Wild Rover’. Yeah its been done to death but it’s given a bit of a twist here with the Boozers covering Craic Haus version of the song. Sung to the tune of ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ its a great twist and has what Craic Haus have christened Shamrockabilly coursing through it. We heading towards the end so time for another jokey song with Milwaukee singer/songwriter Pat McCurdy’s epic ‘Sex and Beer’.
As you can imagine its not a totally serious song but great fun nevertheless. The third Lady Godiva song ‘Remember The Time’ is a sentimental rocker that leads us into the final and ‘Everyman Is A King’ brings down the curtain. Written by Pogues mandolin player Terry Woods and fellow Irish legend Ron Kavana the song appeared first as the B-side to ‘White City’ before being included on the expanded release of Peace And Love.
“From the far corners they made it their home
The Eyeties and Germans, the Paddies the Poles
Goin’ down in the dirt comin’ up with the gold
Like Bill Fuller, the Kennedys and Corleones”
A fantastic song that takes in what we all love and hate about the States but overall the opportunity it gave to so many people fleeing from poverty, and worse. Thomas gives it a decent Terry Woods impression and it’s a solid version that doesn’t stray too far from the original.
Produced by Sebastian ‘Seeb’ Levermann, of famous German metallers Orden Ogan and owner of the Greenman Studios he has done a grand job taking the folk and punk elements and combining them to make a powerful album that is not over produced or sees either wing of their music over dominating. Ten years since they first kicked off is a rather long time to get your debut album out but it was a wait worth waiting for.Their experience in other bands has stood them well and whether you call them Folk Punk or Celtic Rock it doesn’t really matter as the one thing you are guaranteed is a damn good time and they have managed to successfully transfer that sound onto Still Got The Booze.
Cascabel’s European tour sees them heading to London, Liverpool and Ireland (as well as Germany and Belguim) in just a few days so be sure not to miss this fantastic celtic influenced folk-punk band playing live in or near your town!
Anyone out there remember seeing the great Mickey Rickshaw play on their European tour in January earlier this year? Well I only mention it as the stripped down band that made it over this side of the Atlantic from their home in Boston, Mass sound remarkably similar to this bunch of Slovaks on their second EP Blood, Wood & Rats. Five songs of beautifully played acoustic punk rock with some of the most amazing fiddle you will ever hear on a band featured within these pages. Released just last month Blood, Wood & Tears is Cascabel’s second release after their debut Coffee Tellers and on listening you can hear they have got better and better as a band every step of a road that has taken from their home in Banská Bystrica in Slovakia in the heart of Europe.
This entertaing five piece band already have a extensive tour history under their belt, including almost every European country, and now they are ready to wash up here with their quality upbeat folk punk music. Their mix of fast chords and catchy melodies is all performed solely on acoustic instruments with folk melodies and plenty of punk rock attitude.
Though they are far removed from any of the Celtic nations their music has an indefinable celtic air to it. As I said it reminds me a lot of the stripped down Mickey Rickshaw that played a short European tour earlier this year and not just that but singer Lukas doesn’t half remind me of Mikee from Mickey Rickshaw as well. Extremely catchy and real foot tapping country-Irish-folk from a band we must support while they are over this side of Europe. Their tour takes them to Ireland, England, Germany and Belgium and with gigs in Liverpool and London I’m sure the London (and Mersey) Celtic Punks will rally round. Their full tour dates are above but they come to us in the capital at The Bird’s Nest in Deptford, South London on Monday 4th September and the good news is that it’s free admission and Cascabel will take the stage about 9pm but check on the Birds Nest FB page (here) nearer the time or the FB event (here).
I’m sure I don’t have to tell London Celtic Punks how hard and expensive it is for a band to tour round Europe so take a good look at the tour dates and get onto your friends and share it with them or even get them to share it.
We are not a massive scene but we are certainly a good one with good people. We are a small family but we support each other like the best families do.
Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2016. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these twenty-five album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
TOP 25 CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS
1. THE RUMJACKS (Australia)-‘Sleepin’Rough’ Review
2. THE NARROWBACKS (New York)- ‘Arrogance & Ignorance’ Review
3. THE CLOVES AND THE TOBACCO (Indonesia)- ‘Across The Horizon’ Review
4. MICKEY RICKSHAW (Boston)- ‘Behind The Eight Ball’ Review
Absolutely no surprise here at all. For the first time we had an unanimous vote from all the admin’s that sees The Rumjacks sail away with the #1 spot for the second year running. It’s been an outstanding year for the Bhoys and with an American tour on the horizon they about to take another giant step in their campaign of world domination! Other notables were NYC’s Narrowbacks whose second album really showed the depth of their songwriting and could just have easily won the folk/trad best of too! The Cloves And The Tobacco deserve plaudits galore in another fantastic year for Indonesian celtic punk bands while Mickey Rickshaw could probably be said to have won the ‘unified title’ across all the various celtic-punk sites. In all we have twenty five bands from fourteen countries including USA x 6, Australia x 3, Indonesia x2, Germany x2, Netherlands x2, Catalonia x 2, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia and Belarus with The Wakes being the only Celtic country based band which goes to show how international the scene has become.
6. THE CLAN (Italy)- ‘All In The Name Of Folk’ Review
24. RUSTY NAIL (USA)- ‘Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart’ Review
25. THE LANGER’S BALL (USA)- ‘Whiskey Outlaws’ Review
A special mention here to the ever prolific and always a pleasurable experience The Mahones who released a greatest hits entitled The Very Best: 25 Years Of Irish Punk which couldn’t be included in the Top 25 but if it did would have given The Rumjacks a run for their money!
TOP TEN CELTIC PUNK EP’S
1. MICK O’TOOLE (England)- ‘A Working Class Battalion’ Review
2. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY (Australia)- ‘Whitewashed Graves’ Review
With The Rumjacks returning a year later to sweep the Album Of The Year it’s no surprise then that Wiltshire lads Mick O’Toole follow up last year’s win in the EP Of The Year awards to do the same thing. A great year for them that has seen them play less and less within the celtic-punk scene and really start to make waves outside of it. A foreign tour and more support slots to various punk rock legends than most bands play in a lifetime and all in the space of twelve months. The Ramshackle Army EP got lost in the post leaving us to do a rush-job review and given time I’m sure they may have given the O’Toole’s a run for their money. Drunken Fairy Tales impressed everyone and Matilda’s vinyl only release deserve a mention as well Mick O’Toole grabbing the 5th spot too.
Possibly the hardest Best Of List of them all to do is this one as so many releases cross over the genres between rock and punk and folk and trad but our good friend Anto Morra, the ‘London Irish folk-punker’, just edging it from The Logues with his superb tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising. Mickey Rickshaw swept to third with their specially recorded acoustic EP that came out for their European tour and ShamRocks put out an album of high quality and original Irish folk with imagination galore. A special mention for Blackwater Banshee whose EP came out later in the year and shows enormous promise and one or two original songs would have seen a much higher position I am sure.
Now this has over the years become the Celtic Folk Punk And More Top Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often has that esteemed site walked away with the top spot but there’s a new kid on the block and this year we are happy to award top spot to our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. They only kicked off the site a few months ago but super regular postings on all manner of celtic-punkness has seen them triumphant. You can join their fun over at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do. A special mention here also for Viva La XV another new kid on the block which looks amazing but sadly as none of us can read Spanish we can’t tell if it’s as good as it looks! We’re sure it is and you can check it out for yourselves at the Blog or over on Facebook.
Right now the details. The Best Of lists were cajoled and bullied out of the four admins on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The various scraps of crumpled paper were received and then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions in north London while watching the football on the telly.
We are now in our fourth year of doing these Best Of lists so if you would like to have a look at the previous years best in celtic-punk then click the link below the relevant year.
remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…
Only one more thing to mention about 2016 and that is to remember here Erik Petersen the lead singer of the influential folk-punk band Mischief Brew who sadly passed away earlier this year. I still find it hard to believe that he has gone but he will always be commemorated.
“So tattoo our arms and raise our glasses, call out your name at New Year’s Eve, maybe next time we kneel at a casket, we can say at least the story’s complete”
Read our obituary for Erik hereand raise a glass the next time you get the chance to.
Rest In Peace comrade.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2017
London Celtic Punks and UrbanKelt interview Boston Celtic Punk band ‘Micky Rickshaw’ before they took the stage at their first ever English gig at The Stags Head in Hoxton London as part of their European Tour.
Thanks to Bunney for the interview and John Murphy for filming.
Heading to these shores for the first time ever in January 2017. Ten days and counting! These awesome Boston celtic-punkers are coming to London, Kingston and Woking as part of their European tour.
We need your help in spreading the news of these gigs to anyone you know. Join the Events on Facebook and share and invite your mates. We know it’s hard trying to get people to watch relatively unknown bands but with your help lets make this tour a success for the Boston Bhoys!
Well well well we all know that The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore then who then will take on their mantle when they have retired to the great celtic-punk in the sky? Well I know a band that is more than capable and are ready and waiting in the wings to take over. That band are fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw. A team of young fired up, blue collar, Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s revered place in the history of punk, especially of the hardcore variety, and its massive, and vocal, Irish population its only natural that celtic-punk should have caught on so well among the Boston Irish community like nowhere else. Traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic-punk post Pogues then they have done their job well to hand the baton on to bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will take the sound on for the next generation.
With an Demo EP behind them from 2013, 16 Down and Back Again, it was their critically successful album, No Heaven For Heroes, from last year that saw Mickey Rickshaw’s name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. Reaching the top echelons of all the major celtic-punk Best Of lists, including #9 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Of 2015 here.
So this brings onto that new album, Behind The Eight Ball, again Mickey Rickshaw have hit the jackpot. Eleven tracks of blistering celtic-punk rock that I can’t honestly imagine anyone from yer finger in the ear folkie to yer crustie auld punk not loving the hell out of it. Whizzing past at you at just under half an hour it’s a frenetic sprint to the finish and bar a couple of moments is fast as hell celtic punk rock to be mentioned in the same breath as the Dropkick Murphys so good is this album. Celtic Folk Punk And More web site seem to have already crowned it album of the year here!
And so it is that Wild Atlantic lands across our desk. Indeed the Bhoys from Mickey Rickshaw will be crossing the said ‘wild’Atlantic’ very shortly and bringing their original and brand of celtic-punk to several cities across Europe during January 2016. With four songs, two taken from No Heaven for Heroes, one from Behind The Eight Ball and a new track all done in the stripped down acoustic style they shall be touring with it certainly loses none of its power by being acoustic and if anything proves the old adage right about you know a band is loud when they out punk an electric band with a banjo and a accordion! It’s available for free download at the link below but be warned. Once listened to you will not want to miss their gig/s I can guarantee it!!
MICKEY RICKSHAW TOUR 2017
Saturday 7th January 2017 Opening night of the tour at The Stags Head, 55 Orsman Rd, Hoxton, London N1 5RA. Local bus routes include 149, 242, 243, 67. The pub borders Hoxton, Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington. 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Supports from Hastings folk-punkers MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, local female fronted Anarcho’s REFUSE/ALL, that man again COMRADE X and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ Venuehere Facebook event here
Sunday 8th January 2017 at The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. An absolutely fantastic venue that is only ten minutes walk from the rail station and the music venue is upstairs. Support comes from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, post-punk band with a Celtic twist PHOENIX CHROI, a solo set from BRENDAN O’PREY from local celtic-punk legends The Lagan and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. It’s a 7-30pm start and admission is just a paltry fiver. Venue here Facebook event here
Monday 9th January 2016 at The Phoenix Cultural Centre, 27 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6JT. Just a very short walk from Woking bus and rail stations. Come and say goodbye to the Bhoys and send them on their way to Europe with a smile in their hearts and with raging hangover’s! No bar in the centre only tea and coffee. Only joking it’s BYOB. Yes that’s right it’s BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE… and on a school night too! Support from COMRADE X and one more to be confirmed as well as GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. Live music from 7-30 until 10-30pm and admission is £4. Venue here Facebook Event here
One month today the hottest young band in Boston and one of the major acts in the entire celtic punk scene set foot in England for a 3-date tour. Be sure not to miss them!
There’s a band taking the celtic-punk scene by storm, and for once they are NOT Australian! The band are Mickey Rickshaw and they hail from Boston. Not that one, the one in the USA that is the spiritual home of celtic-punk. A crown that did belong to London until The Pogues split up. Anyways we waxed lyrically about them just the other week when we reviewed their absolutely stunning new album Hiding Behind The Eight Ball. You can read that here and rather than re-tread what we already wrote we will let the music do the talking. and also for once we can go on and on about a band raving about how brilliant they are and you can think that’s all well and good but when am I ever going to see them live? Well the good news here is within a few weeks!!
The EP was recorded in the bedroom of the lead singer Mike, not that you’d notice, by Mike and Shane, who plays tin whistle in the band. It all kicks off with ‘Sapphire Hills’ which appeared on their debut album No Heaven for Heroes.
“Home is where the heart is but my heart is on the road when I’m at home.
The traveler can not sit still in the quiet room.
This road is all I want to know, and I can’t see no use in coming home.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep on moving.
There’s gonna come a time when you’ve gotta choose love or the road.
This time I’m gonna choose the road – not looking back on what I sold.
These ghosts are all I’ve ever known.
It’s time I finally let my spirit roam.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep moving.
You’ll never lose your soul if you take advantage of it while you’re young.
Don’t let it rot, don’t let it rust, don’t let it sit collecting dust.
The road provides you with a home.
It keeps you young and stimulates your soul.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep moving”
Next up is a new track, ‘Rope’, and again shows the versatility of this group. This sounds like acoustic Street Dogs or even the Street Dogs/Dropkicks side project FM359 (here).
‘Monday Warning’ appears on that new album and is perhaps the most irish sounding song on Wild Atlantic.
“I never wanted to grow old,
but when you’re 17, you just can’t face the cold.
And I’ve taken some hits, and felt the heat
from screaming down the road of a dead end street.
And my heroes, they said to me,
“When you fall down, you get back up on your feet.”
And there’s just one thing, that you’ve gotta know,
You can not take it with you when you go.
We said we’d never follow blindly.
We’d never fall behind.
We’d never settle for a life that would leave our souls behind.
Or let them drown in the common troubles of an ordinary life.
We’d keep that fire in our souls alive and burning bright.
And I always said that I’d never change.
And to this day, I still feel the same.
But I look around at what still remains,
And I guess that’s what they call growing pains.
And I fought that clarity.
That lifts the veil and shows you what could be.
Didn’t want to know- didn’t want to see
what happened to that everlasting plea.
We said we’d never follow blindly.
We’d never fall behind.
We’d never settle for a life that would leave our souls behind.
Or let them drown in the common troubles of an ordinary life.
We’d keep that fire in our souls alive and burning bright”
The final song here is ‘No Heaven for Heroes’ which was the title track of that debut album from last year and ends the EP on a high note.
Mickey Rickshaw have released this EP to help promote their forthcoming European tour in January 2017. With work commitments and other stuff it was always going to prove hard to get all the assorted (8 and counting) members of the band over so they are doing the tour acoustic.
Saturday 7th January 2017 at The Stags Head, 55 Orsman Rd, Hoxton, London N1 5RA. Local bus routes include 149, 242, 243, 67. The pub borders Hoxton, Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington. 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Supports from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, REFUSE/ALL, COMRADE X. Venuehere Facebook event here
Sunday 8th January 2017 at The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. Only ten minutes walk from the rail station and the music venue is upstairs. Supports from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, BRENDAN O’PREY (The Lagan). 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Venue here Facebook event here
Monday 9th January 2016 at The Phoenix Cultural Centre, 27 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6JT. Just a very short walk from the rail station. Come say goodbye to the Bhoys and send them on their way. Its BYOB. Yes that’s right it’s BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE… and on a school night too! 7-30pm start and admission is £4. Venue here Facebook Event here
You can listen to the whole of Wild Atlantic below for free and if you like what you hear, and I’m positive you will do , then the band are offering the whole EP as a pay what you want download so have no shame. If you got a couple of quid send it on to them but if you’re skint then download away anyway guilt free!
Well well well we all know that The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore then who then will take on their mantle when they have retired to the great celtic-punk guest house in the sky? Well I know a band that is more than capable and are ready and waiting in the wings to take over. That band are fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw. A team of young fired up, blue collar, Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s revered place in the history of punk, especially of the hardcore variety, and its massive, and vocal, Irish population its only natural that celtic-punk should have caught on so well among the Boston Irish community like nowhere else. Traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic-punk post Pogues then they have done their job well to hand the baton on to bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will take the sound on for the next generation.
(follow the link to listen to their debut album and download as ‘Pay What You Want’)
With an Demo EP behind them from 2013, 16 Down and Back Again, it was their critically successful album, No Heaven For Heroes, from last year that saw Mickey Rickshaw’s name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. Reaching the top echelons of all the major celtic-punk Best Of lists, including #9 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Of 2015 here.
Behind The Eight Ball was released just the other week on October 13, 2016 and was recorded and mixed and all that other malarkey in their home state of Massachusetts. Now the first thing to say about Behind The Eight Ball is that it seems to be over in a flash. Whizzing past at you at just under half an hour it’s a frenetic sprint to the finish and bar a couple of moments is fast as hell celtic punk rock to be mentioned in the same breath as the Dropkick Murphys so good is this album. Celtic Folk Punk And More web site seem to have already crowned it album of the year here!
Mickey Rickshaw left to right: Kyle Goyette- Mandolin * Jay Tea Marchant- Bass * Shane Welch- Whistle * Jake Sullivan- Fiddle * Mike Rivkees- Guitar/Vocals * Chris Campbell- Drums * Jimmy Donovan- Guitar * Tom Donnely- Guitar
The first song out of the bag is ‘Rats in Allston’ and is a ode to Allston a neighborhood in western Boston. To say the album starts with a bang would be to put it mildly with a multitude of instruments all bursting out the speakers at you. With shades of the Murphys and also The Rumjacks this is celtic-PUNK and not for the faint hearted.
“When the sun goes down on the west in a cold cold world that we’re lost in,
You’ll be sleeping in the gutter, face down with the rats in Allston”
Great lyrics and top vocals from singer Mike Rivkees and an absolutely superb production that manages to get all the folky instruments and all the punky instruments and manages to mix them up and yet get everything crystal clear even when they are all at it at the same time.
‘Robbed in Mariscal’ begins as a ska song before mutating into hardcore punk and then flamenco and then gypsy before ending with a flourish while all the time not straying too far from the celtic-punk Mickey Rickshaw blueprint. All the songs here are self penned except for two, the first of which is modern day Scottish rebel song ‘Destitution Road’. Written by the sadly missed Alistair Hulett of Australian celtic-punk legends Roaring Jack it’s a grand version that does the song and Alistair justice. You can check out the Roaring Jack version here. Comparing the two songs it’s pretty obvious that celtic-punk has evolved in the eighteen years since the song was written. Mickey Rickshaw steam through the song in just two and a half minutes barely pausing for breathe.
“The land was cleared and the deal was made
Now an English Lord in a tartan plaid
Struts and stares as the memories fade
Of the Gaels of Caledonia
And he hunts the deer in the lonely glen
That once was home to a thousand men
And the wind on the moor sings a sad refrain
For the Gaels of Caledonia”
The band must have some clever mates as one thing they are becoming famous for is their videos. All done with great lashings of humour and self depreciation and ‘Grey Water’ is no different. A cracking video that makes you want to be right there in the crowd spilling your drink and having someone spill their drink on you. A definite standout track so get listening.
‘Monday Warning’ is another sure fire hit and although I keep mentioning the Murphys the Bhoys have developed their own sound and even though they play tribute to the Murphys here they manage to do it without aping them. ‘Ivy’ is a fast punk number but with accordion blaring out as loud as the electric guitar. The quickest song on here is ’18 Minutes Down’ about the sinking of the Lusitania during the 1st World War and is ran through in just 1:52 minutes and again they punk it up and leave you breathless just listening to it. ‘Non-Profit Warfare’ slows it down just slightly and if anything is a great example of standard celtic-punk while ‘One Life’ ramps up the speed again and is another album highlight.
“Some fall too early, some fall too hard.
Some fall together, and some fall apart.
Some fall from the top, and some fall for heart.
Some have it unfair and fall from the start”
‘Albatross’ begins ala Dreadnoughts before slowly building into a hardcore finish that belies its short length! Behind The Eight Ball comes to an end with the second of the album’s cover versions with ‘The Gael’. Written by ex-Silly Wizard member and Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, the original by Dougie can be viewed here. You may recognise this from the movie The Last Of The Mohicans and Mickey Rickshaw give it the celtic-punk treatment with pipes, crashing drums and thrashing guitars a simply brilliant way to end the album and the perfect reverential nod back to the past.
LONG LIVE BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK!!!!
(listen to Behind The Eight Ball for free on the Bandcamp player below)
One of the best things about doing this here blog-zine is the end of year ‘Best Of’s’. This is our chance to reward, for what it’s worth, and recommend those releases that tickled our collective fancies over the last twelve months. Where as in 2013 the Best Of’s were dominated by local bands and releases and in 2014 it was international bands that stole the show this years is more of a mix of the two. No shocks at the top I’m afraid. It was always going to be a slug out between the big hitters of celtic-punk with The Rumjacks just shading it from the The Mahones by the slightest of margins. One of the team commented that the only difference was that ‘The Hunger And The Fight Part 1’ was slightly better than Part 2. In third place came 1916 out of New York who only just sneaked in with the December release of ‘Last Call For Heroes’. The album came out so late we didn’t even get a chance to mention it let alone review it nevertheless it blew us all away with their brilliant combination of rockabilly and celtic-punk. Another one to file in the ‘shamrockabilly’ category. Overall no major surprises and all four admins lists pretty much tallied up with each other but it’s especially great to see some non-English speaking bands in there as well as some bands that were new to us in the last twelve months. I was particularly happy to see Skontra and The Cundeez make the grade representing celtic-punk as played in the celtic nations. 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. If your album is not here do not be downhearted. These twenty album’s are the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year in what was an outstanding year for celtic-punk. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
Now onto the EP’s. These are classed as shorter usually four to six songs long and around anything right up to 15-20 minutes long. No shock here at number one as a unanimous vote saw this years new band of the year Mick O’Toole walk away with the title. They have been a solid fixture during the year building up quite a reputation and following. At number two it’s long been a well known secret that Indonesia is a hotbed of celtic-punk and Dirty Glass are one of the best bands in their flourishing scene and ‘Drunken Summer Nights’ ran O’Toole very close while another English band came in third. Matilda’s Scoundrels really hit the heights in 2015 and just like Mick O’Toole bigger and better things await them in 2016. The rest of the list is made up from bands from across the globe with Slovenia, South Africa, Hungary, Catalonia, Russia, Holland, France and Yorkshire all making the list.
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 each of them all to bits. If you like celtic-punk then you should not be afraid to give traditional folk a listen. Most of it is more punk than punk these days you know. It’s a direct link to the music that inspired celtic punk music and their are some amazing bands and performers out there. Hard to decide which order they should go in especially as O’Hanlons Horsebox could have just as easily won this years Best Celtic Punk Album as well! This is how the Top Ten ended up.
1. O’HANLONS HORSEBOX- ‘Songs And Stories From The Border’ (here)
8. JOHNNY CAMPBELL- ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ (here)
9. FFR CELTIC FIESTA- ‘Fresh Blood’
10. THE PROCLAIMERS- ‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ (here)
11. SKWARDYA- ‘Domhwelyans/ Revolution’
TOP CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE
Again Waldo over at Celtic Folk Punk And More walks away with this award. There is simply no better site on the internet. Everything you would possibly need to know is here with a HUGE range of bands covered and there is no doubt in my mind that the site you are reading here now would not exist without the inspiration of Celtic Folk Punk And More. Sadly Waldo published a post on January 3rd titled ‘New Year, New Life’ (here) announcing the suspension of the site for a while. We wish Waldo well and look forward to his, and his fantastic web site’s, return.
* The lists were compiled from the scraps of crumpled paper, and one beermat, handed to me by the other three admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and tallied up over several pints of beer in a seedy working man’s Irish boozer in north London.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
all the major players in celtic-punk do Best Of lists so click below to check out what they thought
2015 has been another exciting year for celtic-punk releases but sadly we haven’t had a chance to review everything we received or heard so here’s the last of our ‘Round-Up’s’ catching up with some of of the more obscure records we missed first time round as well as a couple of the scene’s major celtic-punk hitters. These releases prove that celtic-punk has gone global!
THE CHERRY COKE$- ‘Self Titled’
Now The Cherry Coke$ won’t win any awards for Best Name but when it comes to celtic-punk then that is more than possible. Formed in 1999 in Tokyo in Japan they play extremely tight and fast traditional Irish music. Absolutely huge at home, they regularly appear on TV, and this is their ninth release since forming. I have only heard two of their previous records but I can tell you that this self titled album is at least as good as what I have heard before. As mentioned they are tight and powerful and as clear an example of what James Stephens said back in the 1840’s that “it is not blood that makes you Irish but a willingness to be part of the Irish nation”. Easily as good as anything in celtic-punk this is proper party music and a perfect example of what the album has in store is the opening track ‘Rise Again’ for which they and Japan MTV produced this great video.
Ten songs coming in just shy of forty-five minutes so the songs gets plenty of time to develop and like all the best bands in celtic-punk they know how to play a ballad or a traditional folk number as well as punk it up to the high hills! The quality of the playing is amazing, especially the folk instruments. To be put in the same bracket as Flogging Molly but having grown up in different continents its hard to say who is following who here. Absolutely brilliant and well worth checking them out. Couldn’t find a link for you to buy the album but have a look round and see if you can.
Now for something well out of ours (and yours too no doubt) comfort zone. Its one thing to review a Japanese band in The Cherry Coke$ but they been around for years and most celtic-punk ‘knowitalls’ would have heard of them but SMZB are the real underground celtic-punk band… from China. Yes China and they have been playing punk rock since 1996. Their lyrics and music are not appreciated much by the Chinese authorities so three of their albums have been banned. They toured Europe in 2005 and around this time took the decision to move away from their original raw sound of early British punk, ska and ’80s hardcore and add bagpipes, flutes and fiddles to their sound. How or why they decided this is unknown as the internet don’t have an awful lot on them. They have though received plaudits galore from the various celtic-punk sites and sounding like a combination of The Pogues, the Murphy’s and Rancid they have gone on to be absolutely huge in their native country. Previous releases include a split LP with celtic-punk legends The Greenland Whalefishers. A Letter From China makes the bands intentions clear. The cover features a red tank with the caption ‘1989-2014 25th Anniversary’ as well as their rather interesting band logo (have another look!!) Its basically well played melodic punk sung partly in English but with bagpipes chucked into the mix. Its all very very catchy and opener ‘A Song for Chen Huaimen’ seems to be about the singers grandfather where he compares himself to a Chinese fighter pilot who fought against the Japanese. Fourteen songs in just under a hour and some real beauties especially in ‘Smash His Statue’ SMZB hit the real celtic-punk highlights and its songs like this that get them into trouble and long may they rebel! There’s an oldish interview with Wu Wei from SMZB here from The Guardian in England
If there was an award for most hard working on the other hand then I think it is The Go Set who would deserve it. Yeah I know The Mahones never stop touring but for an independent DIY band to be able to finance themselves to be able to tour quite as much as The Go Set do is quite an amazing achievement. This year not only did they play a pretty long tour of the USA but they also made in over here to Europe including Blighty to play a few gigs around the big Rebellion punk festival. Formed in 2003 in Melbourne in Australia we have long been big fans of the Aussie celtic-punk scene and The Go Set are one of the biggest and best bands among them. With a bunch of first rate and critically acclaimed albums The Go Set released seventh album Rolling Sound to a helluva lot of expectation and it didn’t disappoint at all. The album begins with a bagpipe dirge that grows in sound before exploding into ‘Bones’
which has all the trademarks of The Go Set’s fantastic sound. Justin’s clear and distinctive Aussie accented vocals atop of catchy tuneful punk rock accompanied by great bagpiping and mandolin from Lachlan and Ben. Politics is never too far away and the lyrics deal with the social and political plights of the working classes, speaking out both for them and with them. The music doesn’t stand still for a second but the boys spread their wings beyond celtic-punk and as is the way for a typical Go Set album it’s their slower stuff I actually prefer more than their full on punk. Stand out punky tracks include the title song, ‘Bones’, ‘The Struggle And The Fight’ but its the working class celtic ballad ‘In The Streets’ that gets me. Yet another blinder from The Go Set and further cements their place as one of the best bands in the celtic-punk scene.
Lexington Field formed in 2009 in San Diego, CA and Greenwood is the bands fourth album so they have been pretty prolific in their short existence. They describe themselves as ‘Fiddle Rock’ and while it is true that the fiddle does loom large in Lexington Fields sound it by no means dominates and when its quite hard to pigeonhole a band then it makes sense to invent your own genre! Having followed the band since their early days I am again happy to say that Greenwood has hit the spot nicely. Thirteen tracks and forty minutes gives the songs plenty of time to develop and Beau’s great vocals and lyrics stand out as usual giving Lexington Field that extra bit more. Their has been a fair amount of personnel change in the last couple of years but finally the band are settled down and Greenwood is the result. The more celtic-punk days are behind them and Lexington Field are another band who have spread beyond the genre while at the same time keeping one foot firmly in place. The album starts with the furious ‘Ghostwriter’ and the rest of Greenwood keeps up the place with ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide Out of Suburbia’ following.
The catchy, fist in the air music coupled with the dark lyrics is sometimes at odds with the almost jolly sometimes music. The fiddle and the banjo keep them in folk-punk land and they are signed to folk-punk friendly East Grand Records who have no end of great bands on their roster, including more than a couple excellent celtic-punk bands. From the pounding and metalesque ‘Target Rich Environment’ to the slow punk rock ballad ‘Calarity Jane’ this is a fantastic album and Beau further shows his talents as one of the best lyricist’s in celtic-punk.
Well well well we all know The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore who then will take on their mantle when they have gone? Well fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw are up for the job. A team of young fired up blue collar Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s massive Irish population as well as its place in the history of punk then traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic punk post Pogues then its bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will carry for the flame for the next generation. The EP ’16 Down and Back Again’ came out in 2013 but it has been No Heaven For Heroes that has seen their name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. The first of the album’s twelve tracks starts with an eastern European flavour before ‘Sapphire Hills’ hits you in the jaw. The album flows mercilessly at at breakneck speed with no let up and the few times you think a ballad is on its way you are resoundly proved wrong!
‘Sapphire Hills’ is an early standout as is ‘I’m Sorry Mrs Mahoney’ but after a few listens you begin to realise that the whole album is one big standout. The album takes in some nice touches of ska as well as hardcore and will leave you out of breath and ready to swop all your Dropkick t-shirts for Mickey Rickshaw ones. Unbelievably the album is available to download for just a single dollar so get on there as quick as you can and make haste to get it into your earholes! LONG LIVE BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK!!!!
So ends Part 3 and again apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible with time on our backs. If you missed Parts One and Two check them out (Part One here and Part Two here)but if you don’t want to miss any of our posts in future 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.
Featuring over 75 years of artistry in Boston punk and hardcore bands playing old time Celtic pub music
Tin Can Hooley are a Boston Irish band right out of the Boston Irish community. Despite never having set foot there I feel I know Boston well what with the Dropkick Murphys and films like The Departed or TV shows like The Black Donnellys or Cheers and a multitude of factual programmes raking over the Irish mafia/ mob that have ruled in Boston up to the present day. Therefore it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Irish do indeed run Boston. Perhaps not as blatantly as in years gone by, and certainly no longer with guns and muscle, but Boston is still to this day an Irish city with over 20% proclaiming their Irishness. The Irish first arrived in the early 17th century as indentured servants, merchants, sailors or tradesmen. Catholicism was still illegal so many hid their religion but it was the years of The Great Hunger that saw the Irish population explode. Between 1845 and 1849, 100,000 Irish refugees arrived in Boston, fleeing starvation and pestilence. They transformed Boston into a distinctly Irish city and by the end of the 19th century, Boston’s core neighbourhoods had become enclaves of ethnically distinct immigrants with the Irish dominating, for example, the whole of South Boston. It wasn’t all plain sailing though and the Irish were met with considerable discrimination. From the first moment of their arrival, the Irish occupied the basement of American society. Much of this discrimination was the result of anti-Catholic sentiment. Catholicism was extremely important to the Irish community. Attending church was mandatory and defined what made a good citizen. No single group of individuals did more to change the face of Irish-Americans than the Kennedy family. Through their military service and political careers, Joe Kennedy and his sons became American royalty. The entrance of the Irish into politics marked the turning point and the end of blatant Irish discrimination. Famous actors and TV stars- Denis Leary,Ben and Casey Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Mike O’Malley, Conan O’Brien,Politicians- The Kennedy’s, Tip O’Neal, and sportsman like John L.Sullivan, Micky ‘Irish’ Ward, Kevin McHale, and its basketball team- The Boston Celtics, and its infamous gangsters like James J ‘Whitey’ Bulger and James ‘Spike’ O’Toole all show the pride that Bostonians have in their Irish roots. A walk around the working class Irish areas of Boston and you could be back in Ireland or even Kilburn of the 70’s/ 80’s and you can see why Boston is known as America’s most Irish town. Added to these is perhaps the reason we are here at all, The Dropkick Murphys! I am sure they need no introduction other than to say that it was their Irish-American background growing up that inspired them to become a band fusing punk and Oi! and traditional Irish music and lyrics.
(photo credit Billy Calmovita)
With all this in mind it’s no surprise then music has figured high in the culture of the Boston Irish. As well as the celtic-punk bands that have emerged from the city from the Murphys and The Street Dogs to bands like The Larkin Brigade and The Gobshites who took over and newer bands like Mickey Rickshaw and The Welch Boys, Boston has been at the very forefront of blending traditional Irish music and rock and punk and other music too. Punk bands like Negative FX, Death Before Dishonor and Gang Green have also all given a fair nod to their celtic roots while playing the uncompromising music you would associate with ‘Boston Hardcore’.
Left to right: Will “Sully” Toxic (guitars, bouzouki, vocals), Heavyset Joe (fiddle, vocals), Dynamite Jack (drums), Paddy Keys (piano, vocals), Benny the Fireman (accordion, vocals, tin whistle, harmonica, bagpipes)
So with all that history behind them how can a relatively new band make a name for themselves? Well one way is to make a shit-kicking album of traditional folk standards, jigs and reels that is high on energy and expertly played instruments with enough of a punk rock edge to prevent it going into ‘finger-in-the-ear’ folk territory. This is what Tin Can Hooley have managed to do with ‘Racket In The Parlor’. Fifteen songs clocking in at just under an hour’s worth of top notch punky Irish folk music.
Playing together on and off since 1999 Tin Can Hooley are a combination of two distinct Boston Irish bands. Firstly the legendary punk band Toxic Narcotic, who played a style of hardcore punk known as crust who were not for the sensitive or faint hearted. They were the real deal, working class anarchist punk rock with a ‘F’The World’ attitude and absolutely no compromises. The other band was The Larkin Brigade, who actually happen to be one of my all time favourite celtic-punk bands, and who would, I am sure, have gone onto much better and bigger things if they had managed a follow up to the brilliant ‘Paddy Keys For Mayor!’ album and managed to tour a bit more. They were described, brilliantly, as
“if the Wolfe Tones had sex with Ben Folds Five, and then, nine months later, a tearful Ben Folds Five left a bassinet on the doorstep of a bewildered Minor Threat, who, after attempting to raise the little bundle itself, passed the kid off into the social services system, where it went through a series of foster homes including the Pogues and Blood for Blood, before it was taken under the wing of the Rolling Stones, who paid for it to take piano lessons from Scott Joplin and then Jerry Lee Lewis, each of whom in turn kicked the kid out of class for not practising, and finally the kid ran away and worked in an Irish pub, where it osmotically memorized every song in the book while mopping puke off the floor, until one day the Wolfe Tones walked in to order a pint and recognized its own offspring running cases of Magner’s behind the bar, and, after a brawl that caused thousands of dollars in damage and a bar tab that cost hundreds, bestowed upon the kid a lucky Claddagh ring with special powers, then that kid would grow up to be the Larkin Brigade”
So Tin Can Hooley come from quite a musical heritage themselves and boy they don’t let Boston down one bit as these Bhoys can certainly play! ‘Racket In The Parlor’ clocks in at just under one hour and kicks off with the Irish air/Scots barn dance ‘Loch Na gCaor/Killiecrankie’ and is instantly reminiscent of The Larkin Brigade and that feeling gets stronger when Paddy sings in the next song, ‘Johnsons Motorcar’.
“Well we put that car in motion and filled it to the brim
With guns and bayonets shining which made old Johnston grim
And Barney hoisted a Sinn Fein flag and it fluttered like a star
And we gave three cheers for the IRA and Johnston’s Motor Car”
Based on a real event in 1920 during the Irish War Of Independence when a IRA flying column desperately needed transport to a town over fifty miles away. They called out Henry Johnston, the local doctor, and then ambushed him and his car at a railway bridge and commandeered the car. Humour and real history captured in a great song. A selection of more reels and jigs follow and the wonderful fiddle work drives it along with piano, accordion, bagpipes, bouzouki, tin whistle and harmonica all popping up again and again giving the album a well rounded and full sound. The piano gives it all a music hall feel but there is a respect for the people and musicians who sang these songs first while Tin Can Hooley add to and adapt so these songs can be passed onto the next generation who will perform them and celebrate them.
The usual standards are also here with ‘Tell Me Ma’, McAlpines Fusiliers’ and ‘The Fields Of Athenry’ all getting an airing and though you may have heard them a thousand times don’t be letting that put you off as Tin Can Hooley perform everything with their own personal flair and touch. ‘The Moonshiner’ again shows the bands great sense of humour
“I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler,
I’m a long way from home
And if you don’t like me,
Well, leave me alone
I’ll eat when I’m hungry,
I’ll drink when I’m dry
And if moonshine don’t kill me,
I’ll live till I die”
Tin Can Hooley must go down an absolute storm in the pubs and clubs of Boston and they have transferred their fun and raucous sound onto ‘Racket In The Parlor’ and it doesn’t fail to surprise. There is so much here within the fifteen songs with excerpts of countless songs slotted in unannounced to shock you. Its a brilliant album and chock-a-block with energy and fire to fill your hearts and stomachs. ‘John Ryans Polka/ Wild Colonial Boy’ leads you on a merry dance and this reminds me of The Pogues with their ability to make folk instruments sound as loud and as punk as any punk band. A slow version of ‘Fields Of Athenry’ features the beautiful voice of twelve year old Siobhan Hayes. It seems Tin Can Hooley are already aiding that next generation of Boston Irish. ‘Derry Air/ Gravel Work’ shows the serious traditional side to the band and if anyone would ever accuse them of not being able to play then I’d suggest they shove this in the accuser’s face! ‘Its A Long Way To Tipperary’ ends the album and the music hall favourite written by 2nd generation Irish Brummie Jack Judge in 1912 has never sounded such fun. A great finale and this song shows everything great about Tin Can Hooley.
All in all a wonderful album and one to be filed among the more trad side of celtic-punk. The assortment of punk rockers playing gives it an definite feel of a punk rock record while the music stays within the confines of a folk record. Superb musicianship and some really great adaptations of some classic, and not so, songs from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and America. Would love to hear some originals from this band but with their pedigree it shouldn’t be too long I am sure.