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ALBUM REVIEW: THE POTATO PIRATES- ‘Raised Better Than This’ (2014)

hard and fast blue collar American punk rock with bagpipes

The Potato Pirates- 'Raised Better Than This' (2014)

The Potato Pirates hail from Denver, Colorado in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. Known as ‘The Mile-High City’, Denver sits at an altitude of 5,280 feet (1,600 m) above sea level and lies where the Great Plains give way to the Rocky Mountains. Interestingly 10% of the population of Denver are Irish, which just goes to show how deeply embedded peoples roots actually are in America. The Potato Pirates are a five piece punk band with lots of celtic/folk punk influences. Forming in 2003 their sound is a mix of various styles of punk with touches of ska but all done with Scottish bagpipes.

‘Raised Better Than This’ is The Potato Pirates third album and easily their most accomplished to date. Twelve tracks that clock in at just a few seconds under half an hour means that the songs fly past at a good rate of knots with an infectious, youthful exuberance you dont often hear in celtic punk circles where sometimes bands can take themselves a wee bit too seriously. To be sure this is punk rock with bagpipes and of course comparisons with The Dropkick Murphys are inevitable but its The DKM’s debut album ‘Do Or Die’ that it reminds me of. Heads down straight up punk with shouty duo vocals and superbly played bagpipes that completely fit in with the style of music rather than being shoe-horned in.

The Potato Pirates

from left to right Andrew-Bass, Steve-Drums, Scott-Lead Vocals and Bagpipes, Vinny-Lead Vocals and Guitar, Matt-Lead Guitar

Kicking off with ‘March On’ a fast as hell celtic-punk blockbuster with the vocals shouted over driving pipes and bagpipes you instantly where this album is going. The next few songs leave out the pipes and the band concentrate on playing some solid punk. ‘Bruised Deaf Sore’ has a real Rancid sound to it started off with a ska beat crashing forth between punk. ‘I Will Defend’ is the fastest song on the album. Tuneful hardcore punk that’s as clear as a bell and talks of the human instinct to protect those things dear to us- our families, our friends and ourselves.

‘Cant Go Back’ is an older song the boys have re-recorded. The pipes are back for next song ‘Oh The Humanity’ and so begins the most celtic section of the album with the punk a wee bit softer, but not soft!, and the pipes leading the way.  ‘Tequila Romance’ chucks in ska, punk and celtic and comes up with a real standout track. ‘Thinkin Bout Drinkin’ begins with a slow acoustic guitar intro before thrashing guitars give way to ska and then returning to thrashing about. ‘Dead To Me’ has a melodic hardcore sound which as you can tell is about getting rid of mates who stab you in the back. ‘Boots For Brains’ has an absolutely great pipes solo from Scott and even though I would like to hear more myself I’d have to admit it’s probably enough for most people.

The albums standout track for me. ‘Outta My City’ tella of the recent worldwide invasion of the ‘hipster’. Cant be arsed to explain what this middle class phenomenon is just look it up and marvel at what some people/idiots will fall for. Tongue firmly in cheek The Potato Pirates have a grand sense of humour and  ‘Gullible’

“I’d rather die than live for you”

the lads sing in another album highlight and yeah The Potato Pirates can be a bit irreverent but they can also write some serious shit too. The album ends with ‘Struggle’ and sounds like a cross between Agnostic Front and the oft mentioned Rancid. Another great song with some more serious lyrics to end on.

“Celebrate disaster, It makes you live your life, Embrace conflict, It keeps you on your toes and putting up a fight”

Overall an anthemic album with shedloads of fist in the air moments. The Potato Pirates have surpassed themselves with ‘Raised Better Than This’ and have come up with an album where the sound though brutal at times is carried along with a clear sound, top musicianship and brilliant sometimes funny and sometimes profound lyrics. The celticness though only a small part of their sound it’s still an important part and though I may be biased they were the songs I enjoyed most though thats not to say the rest of the album is pretty damn good as well!

The Potato Pirates

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