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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CLAN- ‘Here To Stay’ (2018)

Here To Stay the third studio album from the Milan based Irish rockers The Clan. Celtic rock band formed 2013 from a group of musicians coming from diverse musical directions but with the same deep love for Ireland and its unique sound. 

Back in 2016 The Clan were one of the first bands on the site that had been reviewed a second album. Time marches on and here we are now reviewing third third album and if we ranted and raved about the previous two then prepare yourselves for some more of the same as this album rates up there with both of them! The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in the province of Lombardy in the north of Italy and have been playing music together since 2013. The relationship between Italy and Ireland has in my own experience been a happy one. At my Catholic school here in England the two communities got on well while in the States, as far as I know, there has always been a high degree of inter-marriage. Plenty of Italians have passed through Ireland over the decades and more than a few have passed the other way with pretty much all of my Irish relations having chosen Rome for their honeymoon destination! We are both sitting out the World Cup too!! The Celtic-Punk scene in Italy is also quite unique as the scene is so bound up with the music of Ireland. There is a sort of generic Celtic music that incorporates music from all the Celtic nations and though instantly recognisable as Celtic-Punk it doesn’t belong to one place in particular. The Italian bands are different. The music from bands like The Clan, Modena City Ramblers, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, Kitchen Implosion, The Rumpled and Dirty Artichokes (coming to London in August!) all have the same deep love for Ireland, it’s culture and musical traditions. That love dominates their music throughout and has produced a truly unique style of Irish music.

As we have said many a time it’s no good expecting the best Celtic-Punk bands out there to have Celtic blood in them as you will be sorely disappointed! The Clan come from a beautiful place and play beautiful music that fills your heart with cheer and will surely plant a smile right across your face. Here To Stay begins with a kick-arse tune from the very off with ‘Pocket Money Heroes’ and it may start as if it’s heading down the hard’n’heavy route but before you know it’s completely changed track and your listening to a high energy poppy punk song with reggae interludes and great bagpipes and fiddle that change the direction of the song on arrival. A massive gang chorus of ‘whoah’ the opener covers everything and shows their songwriting abilities from the first beat. The Clan to more trad territory next with ‘Glory Waits’ and one of the standout tracks here for me.Mandolin and tin-whistle and one hell of a folk rocker with a dead nice country feel to it. Catchy as hell and just what we came here looking for. The next song up is ‘Jail Times’ and I have to say it’s not my cup of Barry’s. It’s well played and will especially appeal to fans of bands like Rancid with even a organ interlude! We are back on more solid ground next with ‘Rebel Town’ and finally the Irish influence comes spilling out. Now this is Irish-punk music with a brilliant singalong chorus and a foot stomping beat that will fill the dance floor. That a band can take two such diverse genres like punk and trad folk and then mix them into something so infectious it would get even the most miserable onto their feet is always something that never ceases to amaze me. The bagpipes open for ‘Johnny’ along with the drums giving its a Scots feel before the ‘whoahs’ start again and it’s a catchy punk number with Angel’s voice given full range and his gravelly strained tones portray a passion for what he’s doing. ‘Rat Race’ again takes the standard Celtic-Punk weapons of tin-whistle and mandolin and teams them with punk and comes out with a real beauty of a track. This is followed by the album’s title tune and ‘Here to Stay’ is a lively upbeat reggae infused number that’s duel vocals give it a Black Water County feel. There’s more of a punk rock influence here then before but it still sits within the Rancid description I think. The pipes are back again for ‘Prodigal Son’ and Chiara’s playing is immaculate as The Clan throw out yet more ‘whoahs’ making for a great audience song where arms are flung aloft and lungs are loosened and beer is no doubt spilt. Catchy as hell as is the whole album The Clan have an ear for a good tune. ‘Seize the Day’ is the album’s nearest tune to a ballad with Angel accompanied for most of the song only by a frantically strummed acoustic guitar though later Frisco joins in with some exquisite fiddle playing. Finally we reach my favourite song of the album, the western influenced, in style and content, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and if I was to make a Top Ten Celtic-Punk videos then The Clan would feature heavily so don’t pass by without watching the great video below. The music like the video is heavily influenced by both western and country but with that unmistakable Clan Irish-punk feel to it.

We are nearing the end and ‘Vesuvius’ is up and the album’s only instrumental and takes Irish music to another level. You may hear stuff like this every now and then but rarely, i repeat rarely, do you hear it so well played and executed like this. It takes all the best elements of The Clan and exploits them to good use especially Chiara this time on the tin-whistle. Brilliant Irish folk music played by Bhoys from Milan. One to get up the noses of the folk snobs! Absolutely fantastic. The album goes out though on ‘Easy Roller’ and The Clan love a heavy metal song and here they sound like the band they love, AC/DC, thrashing it out with the bagpipes. There were a couple of bonus tracks on my download and the earlier track ‘Johnny’ is re-recorded in Italian as ‘Johnny Non Parla’ and finally Here To Stay comes to an end with another Italian version of the album’s opening track this time called ‘Rievoluzione’ and the band are accompanied by Cippa and Paletta of the Italian punk band Punkreas.

Fourteen original songs that rocks in at just under fifty minutes Here To Stay was released last St. Patrick’s Day eve on the 16th March 2018 on Black Dingo records. It’s a fantastic album and, as others around the world’s Celtic-Punk media have written, a definite contender for those end of year Best Of polls. The Clan have been one of the best bands within the scene for a few years now coming to the fore on the strength of a handful of excellently produced videos but have managed to keep up the quality and prove they are no novelty outfit. While the posh wankers can whinge and groan about so-called cultural appropriation bands like The Clan take Irish music and play it with a love and respect for the past while keeping an eye to to the future.

(Here’s that video. Yes that one!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CLAN- ‘All In The Name Of Folk’ (2016)

The Clan. As influenced by AC/DC , punk rock and traditional Irish folk music!

The Clan

We have now been at this for so long that we have recently been doing album reviews of bands that we have already featured before and The Clan are one of those bands. Back in December 2014 we reviewed  (here) their superb self-titled debut album and boy did we rave on and on about how good it was! Well this is the follow up to that and we can confirm that it is indeed equally good, if not better!

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The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in the province of Lombardy in the north of Italy and have only been together since 2013. Maybe its a Catholic thing but their has always been a good relationship between the Irish and the Italians. I can’t speak for America (maybe one of our US readers can fill us in but I did hear their was a lot inter-marriage between us) but here in England we got on fine. A couple of my best mates at Catholic school were Italians and they were big Celtic fans too. Their has always been a lot of traffic between Ireland and Italy and so I suppose it’s only natural that some Italians will find solace in Irish music. It’s also clear that Italy’s top celtic bands like The Clan, Kitchen Implosion, Dirty Artichokes and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards all have that same deep love for Ireland and it’s culture and musical traditions.

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All In The Name Of Folk hit the streets the day after this years St Patrick’s Day on the 18 March which as many of you I’m sure will know it’s the a day not particularly well known to many Irish people! It came out on OnAirish Records and lasts nearly fifty minutes and where as their debut album was a straight up 50/50 mix of traditional folk covers and originals I am especially glad to report that apart from one brilliantly amazing cover these are all The Clan’s own songs.

The album begins with the sound of an ocean in ‘Overture’ which features the first of their many guests, the self taught bagpiper and whistle player, Iain Alexander Marr of The Sidh. A highly original and innovative Italian band whose combination of contemporary and electronic celtic music has led to plaudits galore. It’s a slow dirge with military style drumming that soon explodes into The Clan’s signature tune ‘Folk ‘N’ Roll’ where Iain again guests on the pipes and it’s pure 110% celtic-punk-rock!!! Utterly brilliant with a tonne and a half of energy that bursts out the speakers at you. They follow this up with ‘Second Chances’ and we are joined by fiddle and banjo and with no let up at all with Angel Rock’s vocals shining through. ‘Let Me Go’ features good mate of the band and TV and radio personality and rock star Andrea Rock and again it comes off brilliantly. ‘Jenny Porter’ was the first song they released to the world off the album via the superb video below. An absolute blinder and it has to be said that The Clan do make bloody good videos. Get yourself a beer and a pack of biscuits and be sure to check out their YouTube channel below and treat yourselves.

I don’t have a clue who Jenny Porter (bar that she’s the “queen of the pub”) is but she must be well chuffed to have such a kick-ass song written about her. The album continues with the instrumental ‘Whole Lotta Jig’ featuring one of Italy’s foremost flutists and expert Irish flute player Tommaso Tornielli. The song is yer proper authentic Irish folk jig that if I hadn’t just told you you’d have never have guessed it was played by Italians. ‘Irish Sky’ has a Poguesy feel to it led as it is by the tin whistle while ‘Angel of the Sea’ is one of those swirling around on the dance floor moments with yer arms wrapped around friends and foe alike while yer beer spills down someone’s back and grand it is too. It features Francesco Moneti fiddle player of the amazing Modena City Ramblers and has a seriously good Waterboys sound to it. ‘Horns up and Fight’ turns the volume up again kicking off with the pipes and the fastest/punkiest song on the album is heading yer way. ‘Ulysses and the Siren’ keeps the speed up but is much more traditional based while ‘Reel O’Fire’ is another class instrumental featuring both Stefano Iascone and Jacopo Ventura and comes up trumps again with a trad number that is simply outstanding with the great addition of trumpet making it stand out loud and proud. It’s possibly the best song here and shows The Clan at what they do best. ‘Home of My Heart’ slows the pace down a little but still sounds perfect Clan! They save maybe not the best for last but certainly the two songs that will stand out among the majority of celtic-punk fans. ‘True Story’ featuring the #1 geezer in celtic-punk Francis McLaughlin of Aussie band The Rumjacks who need no introduction and Frankie’s dulcet tones dominate the song as per usual everything this Bhoy turns his hand is simply magnificent and finally the album comes to an end with another Aussie connection. You may heard ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ before especially as just recently its been all over Facebook as performed by the brilliant AC/DC on the back of a van driving down some street in Australia (check it out here). Their are bagpipes in the original and I guess we could definitely consider it celtic-rock (even celtic-punk) these days but The Clan add to it some fiddles and mandolin among the pipes and crank the rock up too making this the perfect ending to a great album. If you can please excuse my language for a moment IT FUCKING ROCKS!!!

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A fantastic album and, as others have written, a definite contender for those end of year Best Of polls. This is perhaps not ‘celtic-punk’ in as much as it is Irish-punk as their love of Irish music seeps through every pore of All In The Name Of Folk. Not a single bad track here in fact the absolute opposite. This is how celtic-punk should be played with love and respect for the past and a eye to to the future and all the time keeping it relevant for everyone from yer old folkie with a finger jammed in his ear to the young skate punker sitting in his bedroom annoying the hell out of his parents with his music. Get this album it’s far too good to miss out on!

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