Tag Archives: Oi Polloi

ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Breizh Anok’ (2017)

Proper authentic Celtic celtic-punk from the masters of the genre!

With more than 50,000 sales and over 600 gigs on the clock the Menhir Chimney Sweeps are one of the scene’s best and biggest bands, and they deserve that fame to spread beyond Brittany too.

There really is nothing like a Celtic celtic-punk band. By that I mean one from the celtic nations and I don’t just been anyone either but a campaigning radical Celtic celtic-punk band and their really is no one in the world to compare to Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. Their are tonnes of great bands out there playing music inspired by their ancestors but their are only a tiny handful that sing in their native Celtic language and most of those come from Brittany. The north-west corner of what some know as France is in fact an ancient Celtic nation with its own customs, traditions and language. All of which the French government have for centuries tried to destroy. In common with all the other Celtic nations this has been resisted and in Brittany the Breton language is having a revival due in no small part to the wider community being so accepting of modern trends. Where as in Scotland the leaders of the Gaelic speaking community would rather it die out than mention that anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi sing in Gaelic. The reverse is true in Brittany as celtic-punk has been embraced and used as a weapon to push French away from the lips of Breton youth.

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs with the incredible Louise Ebrel and the Bagad Bro Kemperle

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs were founded in 2006 and its members include Éric on the bombard, Richard on the bagpipes, traditional vannetais singer Maurice Jouanno and Loran, famed guitarist from Bérurier Noir. Their first album Dañs an Diaoul (The Dance Of The Devil) came out the following year. The famous Breton singer Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician, guests on several songs on the album and has accompanied them throughout their career often playing with them live or on their records. We tried to get them over to these shores before but it was just too expensive sadly. If anyone out there fancies subsidising a wee tour drop us a line. They did play these shores before in early 2008 they played in Scotland with Oi Polloi and Na Gathan. Since then they have played 100’s of gigs and released two other album’s, Amzer An Dispac’h! in 2010 and Tan Ar Bobl in 2014. That LP was voted into 4th place in the 2014 London Celtic Punks Best Album list and deservedly so with it’s blend of hardcore punk accompanied by celtic instruments and shouty gang choruses and vocals. Guests from across the musical spectrum were asked to perform and did freely showing the lack of snobbery within the Breton folk/language scene. They choose to embrace Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs (not that it’s always been plain sailing) while as we have said Oi Polloi are put down and, even worse, ignored by their Scots compatriots despite all the positive work they are doing to promote Gaelic in Scotland.

Having got into them via a couple of Breton friends it really is amazing the sound that they can garner from trad Breton instruments and it was with no little shock and a wry smile that I only just found out what the band name means. It is Breton for chimney sweeps and a Menhir is the Breton equivalent of a Stonehenge style standing stone. These stones are found all over the Celtic nations as well as England and France. It is estimated that their are about 50,000 in these areas with over 1,200 in Brittany. The largest surviving menhir in the world is located in Locmariaquer, Brittany, and it is known as the Grand Menhir Brisé. Once nearly 68 foot high, today, it lies fractured into four pieces, but it weighed near 330 tons when intact. It is placed third as the heaviest object moved by humans without powered machinery. It seems apt that the band take their name from these ancient monuments as their music is so firmly rooted in Breton history and tradition.

To us the idea of a punk band playing with ancient instruments does not seem strange but outside our small but perfectly formed scene it is different but the Chimney Sweeps of Menhirs have won over everyone from young punks to their Grandad’s and Nannies and everyone in between. You may think it an exaggeration to say they are an institution but just about everyone in Brittany has seen or heard of this band that combines bombards and bagpipes with punk and is accompanied by and respected by some of the biggest names in traditional music.Using their music as a weapon to promote Breton independence it’s not too far fetched to say Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are not just a band they are a movement and their new album Breizh Anok (Coop Breizh) is again a call to arms both literally and figuratively. You get ten songs clocking in at forty-six minutes that carries on their tradition of chugging, choppy guitar and Celtic pipes and whistles. They have always been a band that captures perfectly their live sound and here they have done it again. On Breizh Anok they are accompanied in part by the Bagad Bro Kemperle (a Breton traditional group comprising up to forty members). They joined the band on stage at Hellfest 2017 their whole performance is captured below but be careful it will bring out the Celtic warrior in you.

Now as much as it bugs me that I can’t understand what the songs are exactly about you can get a decent idea overall. Their is still no bassist and only a drum machine but by Christ can these Bhoys whip up a racket. Kicking off with ‘Dir Ha Tan’ the sound of the ocean is soon accompanied by the bombard, a sort of Celtic trumpet!, and soon we are off to that legendary Des Menhirs guitar sound and it’s fecking excellent. The drums are harsh as only a drum machine can be with its military style precision it makes sure you pay full attention. We get more like that until ‘Sucks’ rolls in and the band give the Crass song a real ear bashing with its anti-religion message. originally from the Feeding Of The 5000 album in 1978 its given a tweak here and there and

“Do you really believe in the system? Well O. K.
I believe in anarchy in Brittany.
Is it alright really? Is it alright really?
Is it working?”

The songs are given plenty of time to develop but they know when is enough as none drag on, despite a couple of songs lasting over six minutes and most well over four. Next up is the famous partisan song ‘Bello Ciao’ called here ‘Bell’ A.R.B.’. Written during the 1944/45 winter when Italians fought against German Nazis and fascists of their own country. Simple lyrics straight from the heart and more popular now than ever again it’s given a tweak and sang in part as a tribute to the ARB who were the Breton version of the IRA. I’m not afraid to say that a lot of this album has gone over my head and I have definitely, I’m sure, missed several really important bits but it’s far more important that they sing in their own language.  The album ends with a bunch of songs that nail their colours to the wall like ‘Fuck The System’ a straight up punk number. Their are no ballads here but the amazing Louise Ebrel pops up on ‘Pach Punk’ and shows that age don’t matter just so long as you got spirit. The album ends with ‘Oy! Oy! Oy!’ and goes out with a bang.

What to say here. It is powerful in music and I daresay in lyrics too. A band doesn’t get to where they are without meaning an awful lot to a lot of people. To be listened to with a free spirit as they will I promise you release that Celtic warrior inside us all. Now if only London Celtic Punks can find that sugar-Daddy (or Mammy! we not sexist) that will help us get them over here to play!

(you can listen to the whole album on You Tube below starting with ‘Dir Ha Tan’)

Buy Breizh Anok
Contact The Band
WebSite  Facebook-  Group  FanClub
email- contact@ramoneursdemenhirs.fr
 

here’s a list of YouTube videos here  well worth trawling through on a quiet night accompanied by a few beers!

easily the best English language web site check out THE BRETON CONNECTION “a portal to the Breton movement for self-determination and cultural rights”.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Oi POLLOi- ‘Saorsa’ (2016)

Rocking hard berating the system while shouting “Oi! Oi! Oi!” in Scottish!
by Shane O’Neill
OiPolloi

‘Saorsa’ means ‘Freedom’ in Scots Gaelic and is the sixth studio album of long running Scottish anarcho punk outfit Oi Polloi and the first since 2012. The album is hard hitting anti fascist, anti establishment, anti racism, anti homophobia, anti sexism ( did I miss any anti…..) Oi! punk with strong Gaelic flavour wrapped up in no less than 15 tunes.

Again they don’t shy away from addressing politically relevant topics accompanied by a healthy mix of crusty, punky, singalong Oi! Oi Polloi must be commended for the use of their music to promote the Gaelic culture in particular the use of the Gaelic language in their lyrics.

” …this is class war we’re fighting back…”

“…..progressive Oi! is kicking back…..”

The fourth song on the album ‘No’ is a demonstrated best by the picture below. As they say sometimes a picture paints a thousand words.

Oi Polloi No

The album also contains a track titled ‘Yes’ to voice the bands support of the recent Scottish independence referendum. This one may be getting more air time sooner than we think!!

‘Dirty Protest’ tells of the protest in Ireland’s British prisons about the criminalisation of republican prisoners. Prisoners held in the north of Ireland were regarded, quite rightly, as political prisoners but that status was being eroded and finely was abolished in 1976. Among other things, this meant that they would now be required to wear prison uniforms like ordinary convicts. The prisoners in the infamous Maze, also known as Long Kesh, refused to accept that they were ordinary criminals, and refused to wear prison uniform and instead dressed only in prison issued blankets. The fight led later to the hunger strikes that resulted in ten deaths. For an excellent documentary on The Blanketmen check here)

‘GCHQFU’ is a fine ode dedicated to our friends in the secret service who spend their time ensuring we all tow the line.

“They’re watching me, they’re watching you…GCHQ fuck you”

One thing you can’t accuse them of is not having a sense of humour though as evident on ‘Our Winged Sisters’. Check out the brilliant video!

“This one’s for our sisters who we owe so much, so very much
Neonicotinoids are leaving them fucked, dead in the dust
We must all become pesticides resisters, rezizzterzzz!
Don’t you think we owe it to our winged sisters, our sizzterzzz?

Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters!
Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ! Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ!

Fight for the bees will give you a buzz, give you a buzz
Just like listening to our mighty streetcruzzt, mighty streetcruzzzzt!

Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters!
Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ! Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ!

Agro-chemical companies – we must resizzzt them, rezizzzzt them!
We muzzt oppose their apicidal syzztem, zyzzztem!”

Other notable tracks include the opener ‘Let’s Go’, ‘The Face’ and ‘Spelling It Out’. The CD comes in a digipack with fold out poster including lyrics and infos with the album due out on vinyl any day soon. Check with the record companies listed below. The artwork was once again provided by the talented hands of SONIA L. who also was responsible for the stunning celtic knotwork based art of Oi Polloi’s classic 90’s album ‘Fuaim Catha’. This is definitely an album you need in your collection. You won’t regret it.

Tracklist
1. Let’s Go!
2. Soil Yourself
3. The Face
4. NO!
5. Dirty Protest
6. Contra El Sistema
7. GCHQFU
8. Da Mhionaid
9. Destroi Phallocentricity
10. Metal Detector
11. Our Winged Sisters
12. YES!
13. Vos Vilen Di Anarkhisten?
14. Sing A Song Of System
15. Spelling It Out

Get The Album
RuinNationRecords  MassProductions  (CD only, Vinyl available soon!)
Contact The Band
the full live set from last years 0161 Festival at the Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston, Manchester.

Oi POLLOi ON WHY THEY SING IN THE GAELIC LANGUAGE

There are estimated to be somewhere in the region of 6,000 different languages currently spoken on planet earth. In the face of rampant globalisation, however, 90% of them are expected to be extinct by the end of this century. Here in Scotland our indigenous Celtic language, Gaelic, is one of those threatened. For hundreds of years Gaelic speakers here have been subject to oppression and persecution from central government and its attempts to wipe out the language. Up until the 1970s children in the Scottish highlands could be beaten for speaking Gaelic in school and even today Gaelic speakers still lack the same basic linguistic human rights as those of English speakers. Today the number of those speaking the language is down to somewhere around 55,000 people or just over 1% of the population but a growing number of Gaelic language activists are now fighting back to demand their rights and preserve their ancient tongue. These songs here are part of that struggle to defend our indigenous language – not, we hasten to add, out of some kind of narrow-minded xenophobic patriotism (which as anarchists we totally oppose) – but out of a belief in the value of diversity and respect for different cultures. We believe that ALL minority languages and the linguistic human rights of their speakers should be respected. Whether it is Saami in Finland, Sorbisch in Germany or Gaelic in Scotland we believe it is a tragedy for ANY threatened minority language to disappear. The Gaelic songs on this album then are part of our contribution to the fight for multicultural societies where all indigenous languages like Manx, Welsh and Gaelic are able to thrive and where children have the opportunity, if they so choose, to be able to grow up with a bi-lingual education, having both the benefits of the indigenous language of the area where they reside as well as English or whatever as a lingua franca. Those interested in more information about the links between indigenous cultures and bio-diversity and linguistic diversity should visit www.terralingua.org or read some of the great books on the subject out there like David Crystal’s excellent ‘Language Death’, Mark Abley’s ‘Spoken Here – Travels Among Threatened Languages’ or the highly recommended ‘Linguistic Genocide in Education – Or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights?’ by Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. For more information about the Gaelic language itself visit www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/english.html or just come and ask us at our gigs.

ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (2014)

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs

We here at London Celtic Punks love our celtic-punk and as much as we love our celtic-punk we really really love celtic celtic-punk!By that I mean there’s some fantastic bands from the States or Canada or Indonesia and Italy or Australia, in fact there’s some amazing bands from all over the world truly making celtic-punk an international thing. Saying that though there is something extra special about a band from one of the celtic nations taking up the gauntlet. In Ireland there’s Blood Or Whiskey, Wales has Kilnaboy and in Galicia there’s Bastards On Parade and The Falperry’s but no celtic nation has as many, and are as good, as those from Brittany.

We’ve touched previously on the blog on the history of Brittany as a celtic nation, in this review (here) of the Breton band The Maggie Whackers latest EP, so click there to stop us repeating ourselves! Suffice to say there’s a massive resurgence in both Breton feeling and the Breton language. Through centuries of oppression France has failed to absorb Brittany or kill off the Breton language and Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are a perfect example of what’s happening in Brittany.

Formed in 2006 its members include Éric Gorce on the bombardon, Richard Bévillon on the bagpipes, the traditional vannetais singer Maurice Jouanno and Loran, guitarist from the the group Bérurier Noir. The most amazing thing though about Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs is that they sing in Breton, the ancient language of Brittany which is closely linked to both Cornish and Welsh. Their first album, ‘Dañs an Diaoul’ (The Dance of the devil) was released in 2007 by the former label of Bérurier Noir, Folklore De La Zone Mondiale. The singer Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician, guests on several songs on the album. Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs participated at the massive celtic festival ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ in 2007, having performed outside the official programme. Back in 2008 they toured Scotland with the only band comparable to them Scot’s punkers Oi Polloi. Second album ‘Amzer An Dispac’h’ followed in 2010 and featured more of the same with  hardcore punk accompanied by celtic instruments and shouty  gang choruses and vocals. Guests from across the musical spectrum were asked to perform and did freely showing the lack of snobbery within the Breton folk/language scene. They choose to embrace Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs (not that it’s always been plain sailing) while Oi Polloi are put down and, even worse, ignored by their Scots compatriots despite all the positive work they are doing to promote gaelic in Scotland.

As its impossible to comment on the lyrics I have to talk about the music and the feelings that the album gives me. Knowing a little about the band through a Breton friend the first thing that strikes you when looking up the band is how they have managed to cross generational boundaries and I must admit to a tear in the eye at one video where in front of the stage is a huge crowd of young punks moshing about while at the back a huge crowd of, ahem, more elderly fans are performing traditional dance to the same song. Its this link to the past that makes them so special. The ability to connect the struggles of the past to the struggles of the here and now and even of the future. In an age when there is a revival in celtic awareness its in the language movement and especially in celtic music that people are finding their roots and their pride. Celtic-punk is but a tiny part of that but in Brittany, thanks to bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and the Sons Of O’Flaherty, its helping to lead the way.
Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs
Musically the album doesn’t break any new ground from the first two LP’s but as they were both bloody brilliant that doesn’t really matter! They’ve a new singer in tow but the same chugging guitar, metal riffs, industrial style drum machine drumming and all with clear shouty hoarse vocals and no bassist that keep the toe tapping going while the celtic instruments are played with absolute gusto by champions in their fields. Eleven explosive songs clocking in at just under 45 minutes and all originals except a fun cover of The Adicts 1980’s punk classic ‘Viva La Revolution’. The best way to describe the music I think would be to say you’d find it impossible to stand still listening to this. Within a minute or two you’ll be be slapping yer thigh and a-tappin them toes. Catchy just doesn’t come into it. Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are not just a celtic punk band they are a movement and one of which in everyone with a interest in celtic affairs should keep abreast of. Who said music cannot change the world?
Contact The Band
email- contact@ramoneursdemenhirs.fr
Buy The Album

here’s a list of YouTube videos here mostly from 2014 well worth trawling through on a quiet night accompanied by a few beers!

for easily the best english language web site concerning Brittany then check out THE BRETON CONNECTION “a portal to the Breton movement for self-determination and cultural rights”.

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