Yes its been rather slim pickings so far in 2021 for Celtic-Punk fans. There’s been a few gems (The Black Clover, Real McCoys, The Peelers, Sean Tobin and, of course, the new Dropkick Murphys album) but if there’s one band that can be relied on for providing some decent tunes it’s Ogras! The six-piece band from western Norway shot onto the scene last year with the release of their album No Love In The City. The album went on to hit the #1 spot in the Best Of 2020 polls for both us and Paddyrock and never before had we both agreed on the best Celtic-Punk album of the year. Not bad for a band no one outside Norway had heard of 12 months previous.
One of the joys of Ogras music is not just the music, though that is damn good, is the stories they tell within the song. These guys have truly embraced the ancient Irish way of the Seanchaí who would roam the land recording and then telling the history and stories of the old ways. That Ogras can tell a tale within the confines of a three or four minute song is an amazing feat and all a million miles away from the usual drinking’n’fighting we usually hear. On No Love In The City it was circus performers, outcasts, freaks and other round pegs in square holes while the follow up single ‘Sideshoe Hallelujah‘ stayed in the same territory and the hypocrisy in cheering for the sideshow freaks during the show and mocking them afterwards.
We’ve seen trouble
the wolf and to me.
the wolf and to me.
Ogras new single ‘Red Hook’ is a gospel-infused up-tempo Folk-Rock tune, as always done with a very particular acoustic/electric mix. The lyrics are inspired by the horrific stories of poor and unemployed Norwegian immigrants to New York 100 years ago. The homeless gathered in a community called ‘Ørkenen Sur’ (‘The Bitter Desert’) in Red Hook, Brooklyn. At a time when people from every European nation were fleeing from poverty, oppression and unrest in search of happiness and prosperity in the States, between 1825 and 1925 almost a million Norwegians left for North America. Roughly a third of the entire population of Norway, a higher proportion of any other country other than Ireland. Those early immigrants were almost all farmers so settled in rural areas in the Midwest becoming the most rural of any group arriving in America in the nineteenth century. Others, mainly sailors, were drawn to the city where competition for jobs and housing were high and many slipped through the gaps thankful for a place where they would find if not material needs at least a little comfort and love.
“Between barrels, pipes and in wrecked cars they made their home and where they lived, in summer and winter. Instead evolved into a separate small community.”
The setting for both On The Waterfront and Last exit To Brooklyn, Red Hook was, in the 1990s, named in Life magazine as one of the “worst” neighborhoods in the United States and as “the crack capital of America”. A legacy no doubt of how much was cared for the working classes and the places they lived. Today the Norwegian diaspora in the States is the tenth largest from Europe and the ancestors of those early settlers still celebrate their roots and traditions in high numbers.
Ogras (left to right) Knut Peder Voldset – Guitars * Aleksander Eidsvåg – Fiddle * Filip Eidsvåg – Drums * Thomas Dahle – Bass * Pål Elnan – Piano, Organ and Trumpet * Paul Solåt – Vocals
‘Red Hook’ was recorded at Ocean Sound Recordings in Norway and mixed by Jordon Silva (California), known for mixing The Avett Brothers, Flogging Molly among others. The video was shot in the landfill docks of Åndalsnes and, as usual, made by the exceptional one-man production team of Thomas Dahle.
Download Red Hook Here