More masterful celtic-punk from Eastern Europe with O’Hamsters from Kyiv Ukraine showing us all how its done”
Now we love celtic-punk music that much must be obvious as the nose on my face. The people who write for the London Celtic Punks are lucky (or unlucky considering all our ‘issues’ ahem) to be Irish but when it comes to our music we never discriminate and it’s a good job too as we would miss out on some great music if we ever bought into such ridiculous notions as ‘cultural appropriation’ or that folk/trad snobbiness that saw legendary bands like The Dubliners and The Pogues castigated as ‘un-Irish’ in their time.
This brings us nicely onto today’s band O’Hamsters (their is no ‘The’ just O’Hamsters) who have featured on these pages several times in the past including reviews of their last two EP’s (here) and (here). O’Hamsters hail from the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev, and have been playing together in a band since 2009 and Где бы мы ни бывали/ Gde By My Ni Byvali is their third album release. Now we are in a music scene that is truly worldwide but does tends to sing in English. Even bands from the celtic nations tend to sing in English, with the odd notable exception of bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs from Brittany, and even bands from further afield and well away from the Celtic diaspora nations tend to sing in English. Now this makes it easier for my job as a reviewer but I do worry about the effect this has on the music scene of the country the band comes from. Therefore I do find it refreshing when bands sing in their native language but it does mean I miss out on what the band are singing about. Going on what I know of O’Hamsters it will be the things we love here at London Celtic Punks. Folk, punk, football, Ireland and drinking and some other things we couldn’t print on a family blog!
Где бы мы ни бывали kicks off with ‘Истинный Ирландец’ and all I really want to say here is that the album is fourteen f**king brilliant songs that clock in just over forty minutes so just get to that download button below and get downloading. The opening song gives you the perfect taste of what is to come. Slow and soft accordion gives way to thrashing guitars, rapid punky drumming, quality mandolin and raspy vocals. As is the way with a lot of celtic-punk bands at the moment there’s a brief foray into celtic-ska before we are back again. Great country style intro for ‘Winter Hill’ before its celtic-punk all the way. I hear the word Massachusetts so can only guess that the song is about the home of famous ex-on the run Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger and his notorious Winter Hill Gang. It’s pretty much the same story right through to the end. This is fast and furious celtic-punk of the hardcore kind. Much like their neighbours from Russia, Middle Class Bastards, its’s unmistakable celtic-punk but with a much harder edge to it than we are use to in the soft west. They keep up the pace, and the quality, and it’s not until ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’ that we are treated to a cover version and its the brilliant sound of ‘Come To The Bower’. Having opened the album with their own compositions we are treated to a wonderful set of Irish songs that you never thought you hear in Ukrainian! Gang vocals kick it off and them thrashing guitars and furious accordion give it a sound that would shake the cobwebs from yer average Dubliners fan. This is also the name of the album and suits it perfectly as the song is written to reach out to Irish people exiled to escape political persecution or for financial reasons. A bower is a leafy seated area found in country gardens and often used by lovers but in the song, however, the bower refers to Ireland itself. We back in Irish history again next with ‘Храни, Боже, остров Эрин’ which goes to the tune of ‘God Save Ireland’ though not sure if it’s the same lyrics or not. Vera Brenner guests on Bagpipes and she is simply amazing and her playing adds so much. guys you need to persuade her to join the band full time I’m telling you! ‘Батальон Святого Патрика/ Batal’on Svyatogo Patrikais’ a cover of the David Rovics penned classic ‘Saint Patrick’s Battalion’ which was a Mexican army unit comprised of Irish Catholics who defected from the US army during the Mexican-American War. The St. Patrick’s Battalion was an elite artillery unit which inflicted great damage on the Americans during the battles of Buena Vista and Churubusco. After the battle most members were killed or captured and most taken prisoner were hanged. They are still celebrated widely in Mexico. The boys borrow the tune next from ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ for ‘Странный союз/ Strannyy soyuz‘ and its classic celtic withthe tin whistle moving it along at a swift pace. ‘Cath Sulchuait’ is my album standout track. All the elements combine to make a song that at times could spill into the Dropkick Murphys but each time O’Hamsters steer it back into their own world. A great chorus and the band are never better here though it is close several times. We steering near the end and ‘Рыжий Айриш Бой/ Ryzhiy Ayrish Boy’ or in English ‘Auburn Irish’ takes us back firmly into the celtic ska-punk of earlier and is another standout. ‘Я из Коннахта/ I’m From Connaught)’ is officially the end of the album and ends with the ballad I have been waiting for. Joined by Anna Vasil’chenko from fellow Ukrainian band Kings & Beggars it brings the curtain down momentarily on a great album. I say momentarily as O’Hamsters have added two bonus tracks for you lucky people
(Lyrics in English!! Directed by Andrey Ganzevich and Artem Brin)
‘Стакан/ Glass’ came out in 2015 and is a frantic fast as hell celtic-punk classic that is all over and done within just eighty seconds. The final song here is ‘Ліжко Кухуліна/ The Sickbed of Cuchulainn’ abelter of a song which was one of the absolute highlights of the fantastic mainly Eastern European compilation album from last year The Tribute To The Pogues which is still available for free from here.