The debut release from The Placks based in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. World champion Pipers and Punk-Rock legends combine to play a concoction of Celtic infused Punk-Rock and Trad-Folk, but with melody, mirth and a message!
One thing that is always levelled at the Celtic-Punk scene is that it is often inauthentic. There are two kinds of people who make this allegation usually. One is the folk music
snobs purists who cannot stand to see their music ‘fiddled’ about with and updated. These people are usually happy for ‘folk’ music to remain isolated from the public within their own ghettos where they can remain ‘big fishes in little ponds’. The other kind is those that quite simply do not understand the Celtic diaspora. Many in Scotland and Ireland consider the children of those forced into exile as little more than a joke. I think this is mainly because we share the values and culture of those original exiled people and in modern day Ireland and Scotland this is seen as old fashioned and outdated. Where the children of Ireland may listen to the latest American ‘Grime’ artist those same children if born in Milwaukee or London or Memphis or Brisbane could be learning the traditional folk music of their ancestors or, even better, playing it. Celtic-Punk is a direct link for many of us to what we consider as ‘Home’ but it doesn’t worry me at all that folk back ‘home’ don’t get it. After all it was the same children of the Celtic diaspora at the forefront of the Punk revolution in the late 70’s.
Even so it is always a blessing to discover a Celtic-Punk band from one of the various Celtic nations. From Ramoneurs De Menhirs in Brittany, Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey, from Wales Anhrefn, in Galicia the Bastards On Parade and Falperrys. All bands that have embraced their local languages and cultures and have, sometimes against the will of many of those
snobs purists, dragged it kicking and screaming into a new era. In Scotland that is exactly what Oi Polloi have done with the Scottish language. It is undeniable that in the Celtic nations our languages are in desperate trouble. The tidal wave of globalisation threatens the Celtic nations and the possible damage could be greater than the British (and French) ever did to them. So it makes no sense for the Scottish language community to turn its back on a band that is helping promote the Scots language in a style never before attempted. A band that plays all over the world and sings and releases records in Scottish that is basically shunned by the people who are supposedly in place to help save it. Still they are getting through. From packed gigs in the Highlands of Scotland to having one of the best selling Scots language records of all time maybe the time has come for the Scottish nation to embrace Celtic-Punk and The Placks could be the band to make them do it!
For Oi Polloi it is uncompromising anti-fascist political hardcore-punk that gets the message across but for the The Placks it’s a dynamite mixture of Celtic infused melodic punk rock and folk music. The bands ranks include, alongside guitar, accordion and fiddle, Fraser and Black Jack Rees, two former world champion pipe band members in their ranks as well as vocalist Iain who spent his youth in various punk bands that both helped shape punk rock (Intensive Care) and toured worldwide and were very successful (Beerzone) so you know these guys are a perfect example of the overlap between traditional music and punk. This new EP came about as The Placks were offered a support slot on the recent Flogging Molly European tour. The original idea being to release a four track CD to sell at the concert. Sadly that gig had to be cancelled due to the recent political upheaval over in Paris so the Bhoys decided that the best thing to do would be to release them digitally instead and get the band’s name out there. It’s certainly done them no harm and offers have been flying in from all over the world for The Placks to play and record. The band’s name comes from the Gaelic Scots word Plack which was an ancient Scottish coin worth four Scottish pennies.
So the question is all this is well and good but are The Placks really deserving of the accolade ‘The future of Celtic-Punk comes from Scotland’ as our comrades over at the Celtic Folk Punk site suggest? Well the answer my friends, on the evidence of these four songs, is POSSIBLY! All the elements that float my boat are here. A pride in their country and it’s value and culture that is not hampered by prejudice and bigotry in any way. Joyous uplifting music that sweeps you away but is just ramshackle enough without being too polished. A style of music that would be at home in either the pub or the stadium. The opening track ‘Stealing Bread’ reminds me of 80’s Highlands punk rockers Toxic Ephex with the simple story of of someone being deported for stealing bread. Not much lyrically here to get your tongue round but its a great opening track before the blistering pro-independence ‘Nation In Chains’ erupts and fills your lugholes. Whilst the band are strong believers, as we are too, in Scottish freedom they make it clear they are not anti-English in any way and that it was/is the English ruling classes to blame for the crimes committed against Scotland and the Celtic nations and further afield. Next up is ‘The Mountain Men’ and definitely a trad air to this. Fiddle and accordion lead the way until the music speeds up and certainly gets the blood racing.
Rebellious Sons ends with my favourite track here ‘Let’s Pretend’ and its funky acoustic base tells of the wish for a perfect world away from the reality of what is really happening. Great meaningful lyrics with a novel way of getting them across… and a great tune as well. It bodes well for this great bands next release which is an album (out soon I am promised!). It’s a fantastic four minute history lesson through Scotland’s tragic history away from tartan trousers and shortbread and as I say promises much more of the same I hope. It can be guaranteed that we will be hearing much more from this great band and the chances are that if you live in the States or Canada you may well have the pleasure of seeing them well before me!!
Read a interview with The Placks Clan Chief MacPlack here from Transceltic from last month.