Tag Archives: Real McKenzies

ALBUM REVIEW: Всё_CRAZY- ‘Мокрые слухи’ (2017)

no nonsense no frills just straight up fantastic celtic-punk from Belarus.

We been big fans of Всё_CRAZY (in English- ‘All Crazy’) for a while and Мокрые слухи is their second album and comes only a year and a couple of months after the release of their debut album По Морям. That album was reviewed on these pages here and we had this to say back then

“They have taken celtic music and added their take on it and made something really interesting. We have waxed lyrically before about how wonderful we find it that celtic-punk has gone international over the last few years. Gone are the days when celtic-punk was solely played in the places where the Irish or other Celts settled and these days some of the best bands in the scene are not only from Canada or Australia or the USA but place like Belarus or Indonesia or Brazil. They deserve a fair hearing and we really hope you give them a try you won’t be disappointed.”

The album also landed in the London Celtic Punks Best Album Of 2015 and received favourable mentions across the worldwide celtic-punk media.

left to right: Aliaksandr Hliakau – bass/vocals; Nikalai Kavalikhin – drums; Liudmila Navakouskaya – mandolin; Aliaksandra Halkouskaya – vocals; Sergey Lesnevskiy – accordion; Eugene Rakhanski – guitars; Anton Sirotin – guitar/vocals; Alexey Voryvodsky – sound engineering

Всё Crazy hail from Belarus which up until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union and is bordered by Russia to the north east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north west. They come from the capital city Minsk and has a tragic past. During WWII Belarus was devastated losing about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. Of course after the war came occupation by the Russians but the government and people remain on friendly terms with many speaking both Russian and Belarusian.

(Brand new concert video. Great quality and contains a good few songs from the album)

So why then have these band of merry souls decided to take up the music and culture of another country with a tragic past on the other side of the continent? Well Alex from the band told me

“We began celebrating St. Patrick’s day in our country about 10 years ago, it was a new experience for us. We found that Irish people have a lot in common with Belarusians, for instance, drinking a lot and eating potatoes! The same similarity we found between Celtic and Slavic folk tunes. Altogether, it resulted in the music we play today”

Belarus is a land locked country and again as on that debut album there is an inescapable longing both for the sea and alcohol as the two driving forces of the Belarusian people. No wonder they feel at home singing Irish tunes! The title of the album translates as Wet Rumors which is a local phrase for telling someone what they want to hear. Released just a couple of weeks ago it’s not been plain sailing for the band with the inevitable loss of band members as you get more popular and get offered more gigs and touring becomes a necessity. The mandolin player went on maternity leave but can still be heard on this album and two new instruments (violin and flute) appeared as one musician as Inna Perasetskaya-Malakovich joined the ship.

The album launches with ‘Liudmila’ which is a cover of a song by American folk-punk band Harley Poe. Never having heard of them I thought I would check them out and they were OK I suppose but not a fecking patch on Всё_CRAZY!! Hard as nails folk with the punk kept slightly in check and heavy on the accordion. A right knees up of a song with vocals, as on the entire album, sung in Russian but have a real nice sound to them. if you are the kind of person that is put off my celtic-punk not being sung in English then you in the wrong place. Next up is ‘The Factory’ and the first self-penned number. Have to say there is a nice balance of covers here among the bands own material and some interesting ventures within the song and all done with a great deal of style. One thing is for certain these are definitly not straight covers. ‘The Factory’ is about the limitations of man and his attempt to escape his problems through alcohol. A vicious circle. Most of the music here is joyful but there’s a slight menace here. ‘Wet Whores’ is really part one of a song where the second part follows later on in the album. The songs are getting faster and more and more punk is slipping in all time. ‘Mom’ follows and is a cover of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song but never having been a fan of them I can’t tell you much except I don’t think they were a folk-punk band and so it seems to me that Всё_CRAZY’s version walks all over there’s. The band have stamped their brand all over it as the song begins as a dirge, Slow and mournful before changing halfway into a upbeat tune with lovely male/female vocals and a gang chorus to die for. The familiar sound of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ makes an appearance and takes us into the albums first traditional celtic-punk tune ‘Over the Mountains (Bugger Off!)’. They do a grand version of The Real McKenzies song and the trad elements are a mixture of Slav and Celt and sound brilliant. Another trad song next and ‘Tired Me Out, Bastards!’ originates from the bleak lives of prisoners in the harsh existence in Siberia. We first became of Всё_CRAZY on the release of the fantastic Tribute To The Pogues compilation that came out in 2015. with twenty-seven bands from over a dozen countries it was hard to spot the standout tracks but their cover of the Jem Finer and Andrew Ranken penned ‘My Baby’s Gone’ was easily among the best tracks on the album. Taken from the underwhelming post-Shane album Waiting for Herb it was a brave choice of Всё_CRAZY to go with one of The Pogues lesser known songs but it completely worked. (Follow the link here to get a free download of Tribute To The Pogues)

(Всё_CRAZY re-recorded the song for the album but here’s the sweary version!)

Unsurprisingly it’s my favourite song of the album. Great m/f vocals again and mandolin and guitars work perfectly together. The unsuccessful search for the road to the sea is next in ‘Road To The Sea’ and is a reference to the topic of death and frailty of all things. You can hear the bones of a sea shanty here in a song that lasts over five minutes. Rather surprisingly the band actually formed in 2002 playing all sorts, from reggae to blues rock. Multiple lineup changes saw the band not settle until the release of an album ‘Телипыч’ (‘Telipych’) which became a turning point for the band. The end of that chapter and they changed course, lucky for us, to celtic-punk. The next track ‘Motorped’ was written back in 2002 but unexpectedly suited the concept of the album, and therefore got a place here. Another corker and another knees up with a hint of bluegrass/country wrapped inside. Nearing the end of the album and ‘Babe On The Shore’ keeps the catchiness and gang vocals going with flute taking the lead here. The final song here is another cover but ‘Some Day (When the Saints…)’ is anything BUT a straight cover and I would bet my house on it being a fan’s live favourite. The song lasts over six minutes and takes in several genres in a kind of well played mayhem.

So I can only give you my opinion on the music and what I have managed to piece together regarding the meaning of the songs. The upbeat sound here belies that many of the songs are permeated with a sorrow. Something else the Belarussians have in common with the Irish so. The violin, whistle/flute and accordion feature strongly here but is well balanced by the guitar. A very interesting album and the mix of folk styles from their home country and ours added to good ol’ fashioned punk rock makes for some absolutely great music.

( you can hear Мокрые слухи below by pressing play on the Bandcamp player before you buy. It’s only $3 so go on and splash the cash!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE Пауки (THE PAUKI)- ‘La Isla Del Muerto’ (2016)

Russian beer-core legends have been around for over 20 years and as strong as ever giving us fast HC influenced celtic-punk with beer, pirates and a Russian mentality!

Pauki3

One of the highlights of the last few years has been the emergence of Russia as a celtic-punk powerhouse within the scene. Middle Class Bastards have blown us away with everything they have done (here) and the recent Tribute To The Pogues compilation album (here) showcased exactly what Russia and some of the other neighbouring ex-Soviet Union countries have to offer. From beginning to end it was simply magnificent and is still available as a free download. One of the common themes is that most celtic-punk bands veer a line that takes in The Dubliners, The Clash and The Pogues while a lot of the Russian /eastern Europe bands take a different route that includes Scots rather than Irish folk music and hardcore punk like UK82 bands like The Exploited or GBH.

Pauki2

The Pauki (left to right): Miguel Deviakovich – guitar, back voc * Boris Britva – guitar, back voc * Sasha Tankovich – vocal, flute * Alexey Kozlovskiy – bagpipe, back voc * Vetal “Basillo” Baranoff – bass, back voc * Ivan Laptev – drums

With all the songs sung in Russian its not going to be easy to do a review but will try my best and at least introduce you to a band that deserves to be heard across the world. The Pauki (translates as the much less interesting The Spiders) hail from Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow, St Petersburg. It is said to be the most westernized city of Russia, as well as its cultural capital so all forms of music are popular there and to that we can now add our own as well. The Pauki began playing in September 1991 so are one of the longest running celtic punk bands in existence, let alone Russia, so its about time they had a bit of coverage outside their own country.

Their seems a very clear sea-faring theme throughout the album with the opening track ‘Мы Никто’ beginning with the sound of the ocean before bagpipes wail in followed by electric guitars and you may think its heading into celtic-rock territory but then a thundering bass and all of a sudden the song takes off with the band all singing along before Sasha’s main vocals kick in and wrap around the song perfectly. Comparisons to Middle Class Bastards can’t be helped but hey they are fecking brilliant so whats it matter. ‘Doomsday’ is straight up punk and stands up well for it while the bagpipes are back for ‘Маски’ a really catchy tune and one of the album highlights. ‘Живой’ is an old song re-recorded and is fast as hell with Exploited style rapid drumming driving it along. Another catchy as hell one in ‘Поганый Drug’ follows and again is straight up bagpipe punk. Another re-recorded song next in ‘Я Вижу’ and the bagpipes are loud and proud. Expertly played and clear as day in the excellent mix. ‘Морская Задорная’ has the flute leading and easily makes the song the most ‘traditional’ celtic-punk song on the album with a famous Irish ‘air’ dotted throughout the song. The gang vocals are a great touch and nowhere better than on ‘Die Die’. ‘Тортуга Ждёт’ begins as a sea shanty before the chugging guitar and pipes and more gang vocals join in. Another top song on this album. We are nearing the end and having listened a lot to this in the car with the sound right up and the window down ‘Куда Девался Рай?’ came as a right shock. Shouty vocals and acoustic instruments and a sort of calypso thing going on. Still great just unusual! Well if that was a shock then ‘Kivema (12345 Remix)’ nearly made me hit a tree! Bloody techno I tells you. I’m not a fan as you can probably imagine but as its stuck on the end as a bit of a piss take then I can except it. A dance beat over the band shouting away with the occasional burst of guitar its certainly a novel way to end a celtic-punk album!

The title of the album is Isla de Muerta, in English ‘Island of the Dead’. Famous now for being the famed mysterious phantom isle in the Caribbean Jack Sparrow wanted to find in Pirates Of The Caribbean. No map marked the way so the treasure of Hernán Cortés remains to be found by whatever buccaneer or adventurer would like to claim it. Super happy I came across this album. Like most of you out there I’m coming into celtic-punk with a love of both folk And punk so sometimes I love to hear something with a bit harder tougher edge and I certainly got that from The Pauki.

Pauki1

Eleven tracks, all written by the band, that comes in at thirty four minutes with a couple of re-recorded old songs and that techno mix! The Pauki take the bagpipe punk of bands like the Real McKenzies and take it to the next level. The added elements of Russian and hardcore punk definitely give them something extra and mark The Pauki as a band to follow. I really loved this album and goes to show that you can have a bit too much folk in your life sometimes.

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2015 REVIEWS ROUND UP PART TWO- WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS, SKONTRA, LOUISE DISTRAS, HAPPY OL McWEASEL, THE CUNDEEZ, ANTO MORRA

This year has been quite brilliant for celtic-punk releases. In fact it has been far the best year since we began doing this here thingy. Good news surely but it also sadly means we didn’t get a chance to review everything we received or heard. So after catching up with our North American cousins (here) last time in Part 1 this time round we catch up with some a wee bit closer to home.

WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS- ‘The Anachronist’s Handbook’  (BUY)

Will Tun And The WastersThis album release came accompanied with the sad news that lead singer Will Tun was leaving the band. An amicable split and the rest of The Wasters have decided to carry on without him and so this is the swansong of Will Tun’s Wasters. Formed in 2010 by a gang of students based all over southern England Will Tun And The Wasters released a smattering of EP’s and singles and managed to get pretty popular so it was only a matter of time before an album was due. I suppose losing your lead singer would also also help lose a big slice of momentum as this album sneaked out rather than be unleashed and that was a mighty shame as this is a album deserving of being unleashed! Impossible to pigeonhole they were a hard working bunch ready to arrive from several starting points to play gigs at a drop of a hat. Though starting off more as a folk/celtic/ska-punk band they never stopped evolving and traces of hip-hop, Balkan and Latin found a home and nowhere more so than on The Anachronist’s Handbook. Twelve songs and over fifty minutes long the album takes you on a roller-coaster ride of musical styles but its the accordion and fiddle that stand out for me as well as Will’s great distinctive vocals. The energy is infectious and ‘Red & Black’ and ‘A Criminal’s Waltz’ could be The Pogues but whatever genre they turn their hand to they master it. The album ends with ‘Downtime’ another album highlight but this time a reggae/ska beat dominates. I really hope The Wasters can regroup and carry on (as they do intend to) as they would be sorely missed.

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SKONTRA- ‘Foguera’  (DONATE/FREE DOWNLOAD)

SkontraHere’s some authentic celtic-punk for you played by Skontra from the city of Gijón in the celtic region of Asturias currently under Spanish control. There is a school of thought amongst celtic scholars that to be a true authentic celtic nation you must have your own language but if to be truly celtic is based on culture then we must instead expand our thinking to include both Asturias and their neighbours Galicia as well. Celtic culture is alive and kicking and the people are especially proud of their celtic roots. Formed in 1991 Skontra this is their fourth full length album and the thirteen songs are mingled with elements of punk, hardcore, ska and reggae but always with a celtic base and with the traditional Asturian bagpipes leading the way. Seven of Foguera’s songs are in their native Asturian and the rest in Spanish so can’t tell you what the songs are about but its all dead catchy and if you’re looking for a comparison then this would please all you Real McKenzies fans but its very well played celtic-punk that ought to get you all moving your feet. Typical of Skontra is the fantastic title track which includes just about everything that makes them tick. They have made the album available for free for download so you’d be a mug not to get this fantastic album.

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LOUISE DISTRAS- ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’  (BUY)

Louise DistrasMaybe not a celtic-punk album but Louise has popped up supporting both The Mahones and Bryan McPherson in the last year and her folky-punk solo set is right up our alley. She has been called the next Frank Turner but as I don’t think she went to the poshest most exclusive school in Britain I reckon we can ignore that. There’s no style over substance here, what you see and what you hear is what you get. ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’ is twelve songs of over half an hour of folky punk that sometimes veer into almost poppy tunes like the great ‘Bullets’ but then the album goes in a direction that (very) early Bragg or Springsteen at his best would approve of. Plenty of harmonica (I love that) and great politics too. The politics of the working class and its struggles in every day. The spoken word title song is amazing and delivered in Louise’s broad Yorkshire accent sounds about as authentic as some others don’t. The use of both acoustic and electric guitar and the poetic lyrics and every song is both catchy and meaningful. No filler or fluff here and though not as punk rock as Louise is with her full band this album certainly shows an artist who is on her way to stardom.

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HAPPY OL’ McWEASEL- ‘Heard Ya Say!’  (BUY)

Happy Ol McWeaselFrom the first moment I heard this album I fell in love with Happy Ol’ McWeasel’s brand of joyous uplifting celtic punk rawk! Formed in 2007 in the Slovenian town of Maribor this is their second album and while on No Offence they relied maybe a little too much on traditional folk covers on this album they decided to take the more risky route and play only their own songs and I tells you it works… and it works well! All the usual instruments are here as well as accordion, fiddle, and banjo making as authentic a celtic sound as you are likely to hear in celtic-punk in 2015. Most important of all through the album’s twelve tracks you get the feeling that the band really love doing what they are doing. Their is a real sense of enjoyment running through this album and though you could bracket it with Flogging Molly style celtic punk it certainly ploughs its own trough too though it certainly could compare with bands like Rancid as well. Well played instruments, clear vocals and these fun-loving tunes are a definite hit. Its criminal that bands like Happy Ol’ McWeasel don’t get the applause they deserve but they are definitely one of the scenes best bands. They have given us an album that doesn’t just pump out standard celtic-punk rock but something with a whole lot more substance. One of the best productions on a album I have heard helps a lot but this innovative band will go far I am sure.

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THE CUNDEEZ- ‘Sehturday Night Weaver’  (BUY)

The CundeezIf their was a prize for best pun in a album title then Dundee band The Cundeez would walk it. Do you get it? Anyway this is their third album and with each one the band have got more polished and accomplished. Saying that it’s still ramshackle punk rock in all its glory. The lyrics are mostly either political or a bit daft and shouted in a raw Dundee dialect and combined with the punching guitars, pounding drums and occasional bagpipe The Cundeez certainly offer something well different to yer usual punk rock fare. The opening song is pure bagpipes and well played they are too but with the next song ‘Scaffie Radio’ the album steers away from celtic-punk into more standard (but still very good) punk. Elements of ska too especially on the brilliant ‘Rooota’ The pipes return occasionally and the album ends with a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ where the pipes return again to great effect. The rest of the album rocks by and can’t wait to catch them live from what I have heard they put on a great show.

The Cundeez unashamedly Dundonian working class band promotin the culture an havin a laugh!

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ANTO MORRA- ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’ EP  (BUY)

Anto MorraNow this EP from London Celtic Punks favourite Anto Morra sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb here. I can say that freely as it was Anto himself who said it first! Those coming along to this EP expecting more of the same as Anto’s previous releases will get a shock as what you get here is hardcore ‘finger in the ear’ folk music that brings back reminiscences of people like Ewan MacColl and Pete Seeger. Famed for his wordplay and the way he somehow manages to inject the spirit of punk  rock into his London Irish acoustic folk Anto has come up here with something very novel and you can listen to the whole EP below on the Bandcamp player first before you buy. Again the amazing fellow London Irishman and artist Brian Whelan has provided the artwork and the whole EP is a tribute to Edith Cavell. Edith was a nurse and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. She aided some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belguim and it was for this that she was arrested and accused of treason. Edith was found guilty and sentenced to death and despite international calls for mercy, she was executed by firing squad with her execution receiving worldwide condemnation. She is well known for her statement that “patriotism is not enough” and it was her strong Anglican beliefs that compelled her to help all those who needed it. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved”. Edith, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium and this EP tells of her glorious life. Five tracks of Anto recorded in a church in Norfolk last Summer including ‘Edith Louise Cavell’ which was performed and broadcast live at the Edith Cavell’s centenary memorial service on BBC Radio 4. So a lot different to what Anto has previously done and I doubt we’ll get to hear any of these songs at a London Celtic Punks gig but full marks for producing this beautiful tribute to Edith and I do hope you will give it a chance.

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So ends Part 2 and again we’re sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full-on London Celtic Punks treatment but it was just not possible with work and family commitments. Soooo only one more part to come and in Part 3 we will checking out some cracking releases from across the other side of the world. Yes from Japan, China and Australia. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Rats In The Burlap’ (2015)

The original celtic-punk band!

The Real McKenzies- 'Rats In The Burlap' (2015)

In the crazy world of celtic-punk we have to admit that their are two levels when it comes to bands. The top level of course belongs to by far the two most famous bands in celtic-punk, The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Their appeal has outgrown the scene and most people would name them when asked about celtic-punk music. After them is level two where you would find bands who work their arses off releasing records, touring like mad and keeping the flag flying. At the very, very top of this level I would put bands like The Mahones, Flatfoot56, The Tossers and, of course, The Real McKenzies. Each of them probably spend the majority of their year on the road playing shows from across North America to every corner of Europe. What sets The Real McKenzies apart from the rest of the bands I have just mentioned, is that while the others have embraced their Irish heritage the McKenzies are a Scottish band and play Scots style celtic-punk that even though not a million miles away from their Irish celtic-punk brothers is certainly different enough to stand out like a haggis in a fridge full of Clonakilty puddings!

Real McKenzies

It all began sometime around 1992 in Vancouver when Scots-Canadian Paul McKenzie’s band split up and looking for something new he came up with the idea of combining the classic punk rock sound of his old band with the music of his Scots background and lo and behold, what we think of as modern post-Pogues celtic-punk was born. Bagpipes had of course been used by all sorts of bands throughout rock history but a proper punk band with a piper was a first and The Real McKenzies showed the world that it was no novelty either. Pre-dating The Dropkick Murphys by a handful of years, they perfectly combined the glorious soaring of the pipes with ferocious electric guitars and frantic drumming. These were not a band that wrote punk songs and just had a piper playing along with them, they were written with the pipes as an integral and important part of the band. Now having achieved legendary status they haven’t taken their foot of the pedal and still tour the world relentlessly and, even better still, release great album after great album and ‘Rats In The Burlap’ is another in a long line of classic albums from The Real McKenzies. Their eighth studio release and out on the infamous ‘FatWreck’ Record label it took only a second listen to know that this would rank among their best.

Real McKenzies The album kicks off with ‘Wha Saw The 42nd’ and its all pipes and rocking out. The Real McKenzies have long been acknowledged to be the best pipe-punk band and the quality of the piping is amazing, so hats off to their pipers Aspy Luison and Gord Taylor. ‘Up On A Motorbike’ carries on with a more folky tune about riding through Ontario. ‘Who’d A Thought’ starts off with crashing guitars and is the story of the downtrodded man fighting back. Not much celtic going on here till the chorus and then you realise just how perfect the pipes and punk do work together.

“we wrote ‘Who’d a Thought’ for the political/social climate that people just like you and I are facing today and, even more so, in the future. One of my favorite all-time bands, the MC5, were the ones who first awakened political awareness within me at a very early age. That was back when tha ‘boil’ was already infected, but just coming to a head. Now that the ‘boil’ has burst, who is expected to clean it up? Who’d a thought? Know your opponent. Here’s to the MC5 and to the awakening of all individuals in terms of worldwide political awareness. Don’t be caught with your kilt up”

Straight up punk rock dominates the story of touring,’Midnight Train To Moscow’, with  the pipes coming in again to help the chorus along. ‘Lilacs In The Alleyway’ is almost reminscent of modern day Murphys but as one of the slower songs on the album. Totally dominated by brilliant piping the song steams ahead with a great chorus. The huge disappointment of the defeat of the Scottish independence Bill last September hits home on ‘Yes’. As Paul has stated

“It’s painfully apparent the skulduggery and cheap tricks that once again played out. We as the Real McKenzies wish to let our fans and the world know how we stand on this. Scotland belongs to the Scottish….period.”

and he doesn’t mince his words in the song either evoking visions of a past filled with enforced emigration and poverty and of a future where Scots finally control their own destiny. The bright light at the end of the tunnel though is that many who voted no in the Bill have since seen the light and have embraced the idea of a Scottish republic. Its now only a matter of time before the Scots kick the empire out… the clock is ticking! Absolutely classic McKenzies with the pipes leading the way. Catchy just doesn’t describe quite how… err, well err…how catchy it is!

There’s more than a nod to Irish punk on ‘You Wanna Know What’ with the tin whistle bringing things along nicely while ‘What Have You Done’ takes on those that have irked the band and earned their wrath. The hilarious ‘Bootsy The Haggis-Eating Cat’ brings some of the bands well known humour to the fore with the brilliant jazzy/ old timey story of a cat who stole Paul McKenzie’s haggis on Robbie Burns Day. True or not it gives the listener a welcome rest before they dive head first back in with ‘Spinning Wheels’. More tales of international touring and for a band that play so many gigs, it is not suprising that they have got plenty of stories. ‘Stephen’s Green’ tells of a man facing execution. Up until the 1770s, most public hangings and executions took place in St. Stephens Green in Dublin. Great lyrics and Pauls vocals sound especially good, it is definitley one of the album’s standouts songs for me. ‘The Fields Of Inverness’ brings them back to land of their hearts. ‘Catch Me’ could be the most radio friendly track on the album and the brilliant video ought to get the Bhoys some airplay but without losing any of their appeal and sound.

“My legs are bending at the knees
I’m seeing things nobody sees
Don’t know my name perhaps it’s may be ‘Paul’
Trapped in a drunken travesty
Battling with gravity and
Feeling like I’m standing ten feet tall”

‘Rats In The Burlap’ comes to an end with ‘Dead Or Alive’ and a better pint/fist in the air song you’ll never hear. Death looms large in celtic-punk lyrics and no larger than in this. A story of loss that may well relate to the sad death of long-time Real McKenzies member Dave Gregg who passed away in 2014. Just Paul and a slow strumming acoustic guitar builds up but never takes off and I mean that in a good way. Gradually the rest of the band join in and the song soars to the heavens and back before the final sounds of a fading banjo are heard and its gone. These guys can certainly do serious too when they need it. Fourteen songs and over thirty five minutes long and not a single filler among them.

Real1The Real McKenzies like the Dropkick Murphys have been accused by the folk purist snobs of being a ‘cartoon’ band or, worse than that, of being ‘Plastic-Scots’. What they are though and what they represent is a Scotland for the diaspora of foreign born Scots who see no positive representation of themselves in the media. What these snobs should realise is that Scotland is more than shortbread and Scotty dogs and its bands like The Real McKenzies who have evolved Scots music into the modern age while still showing the utmost respect for what went before.

The Real McKenzies have been travelling the globe now for twenty three years spreading their high-octane, booze-fuelled brand of celtic-punk rock fun and thank heavens they show absolutely no sign of letting up for years yet!

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ALBUM REVIEW: 13KRAUSS – ‘Seguir En Pie’ (2014)

13 Krauss

Debut album from 13Krauss a new band from Zaragoza in Spain. Originally forming as a straight up punk band they were converted to celtic-punk after the boys attended a show by The Real McKenzies in their hometown. They added bagpipes and accordion into the band and hey presto 13Krauss were born! A year later and this debut album hits the shelves…

13 Krauss

You get 9 tracks of which seven are in Spanish, one in English and an excellent instrumental. The album clocks in at a bit of a measly 25 minutes and the songs fly by with an energy you’ll only find in the celtic-punk world. It is self produced by the band themselves so get onto Bandcamp and support them by buying the download (from only £2!). It was produced by Xavi Estivil together with the band and was mastered by Javier Roldón at “Vaccum Mastering” in Zaragoza.

Sounding at times like the folkier bits of the Dropkick Murphys but without losing the punky feel to it. They very occasionally go into Flogging Molly territory but don’t get me wrong, saying this in no way makes 13Krauss a copycat band. It’s the celtic instruments that lead the way and both the pipes and the accordion are excellently played. I bet they were a decent punk band too as the rest of the band play their parts well and together they have produced a great wee album that puts them at the forefront of Spanish celtpunk. It’s been quite prolific over there recently with The Drink Hunters, Brutus Daughter and The Fatty Farmers all releasing excellent albums recently. I don’t include Bastards On Parade for the obvious reason that they aren’t Spanish! Hats off also to Celtic Folk Punk And More which for those who don’t know is a fantastic Spanish based blog and the inspiration for us to start our own one!

Things are looking bright for the bands future having played this years main St Patricks Day stage in Madrid with Bad Manners and a forthcoming tour of mainland Europe taking in France, Germany, the Czech republic and Switzerland in April 2014. The band deserve credit for producing a album of purely original numbers that is also chock full of tight as f*k, expertly played, fast paced celtic punk rock that will appeal to all!

Contact The Band

Bandcamp  Facebook  Twitter   MySpace   YouTube

the guys from the band set up the ZARAGOZA CELTIC PUNKS group on Facebook so trot along there and join up here

 

FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK

AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL - AGAINST MODERN MUSIC

The history of all of the various celtic nations is one made up of oppression, intimidation and emigration. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany (north west France), Asturias (north west Spain), Galicia (north west Spain) have all been for generations occupied by foreign countries who have tried everything to crush the culture, language and spirit of their people.

But first lets go back in time to the 17th century when the English invaded Ireland. The Irish rebelled against them but are finally subjected after many wars and battles and atrocities are committed. They never fully integrate into the English system of government in the same way the Scots and Welsh did, and rebellions carried on and with every generation their have been major uprisings against English rule.

Music was a continual form of expression which made it very important to the culture of the Celts. With the prohibition of native languages and songs just speaking or singing could see you exiled or worse.  Misrule and a deliberate policy of starvation forced millions to emigrate away from Ireland while at least another million died while hundreds of tons of food a day was shipped out, under British Army guard, to England. In Scotland the forced clearances for land to give to rich barons to exploit for cattle and sheep farming sent tens of thousands of Scots to a new life in Canada. Other celts, for example many Cornish left when the tin mining industry went into decline, emigrate to the Americas in the 19th and 20th centuries and right up to the present day it remains high. Why the Americas? Despite those early settlers facing exactly the same kind of oppression, racism and bigotry that they had escaped from, it gave the little guy a new beginning. A sense that anyone could make it in this new world with hard graft and a little luck…plus it was away from the Empire that had held them down for so long, and even in the Irish case even tried to murder them!  Later revolts in Ireland established a republic separate from England, yet the north is still in English control. This was never accepted by all and so began a bloody war to unite Ireland that continues to this day.

Just like the original Irish music pub sessions didn’t originate in Ireland neither did celtic punk. The Pogues formed in post ’77 era London during the ‘troubles’. Bombs going off in the streets of England and shootings were common, anti-Irish racism was a fact of life for many. Many Irish lived together in the same areas of London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham etc., creating, for want of a better word ‘ghettos’ where Irish life carried on despite being in a foreign and unwelcoming land. Punk music started by posh art school kids rebelling against their parents soon spread out to the working class communities and the 2nd and 3rd generation Irish youth of those communities were no different from their english counterparts in lapping it up. The idea of fighting against authority made celtic music highly compatible with punk. Many of those original english punk bands had Irish members but punk bands in Ireland didn’t want to sound Irish they were just trying to sound punk (i.e. Radiators From Space, Stiff Little Fingers). Punk music was able to gain popularity from the people with celtic roots because it represented something unique to their heritage. Punk reminded them of what it is to be celtic to stand against authority, independent and defiant.

The Pogues were the original celtic-punk band. Made up of 2nd generation Irish, Irish and English members they were the first to combine the two genres of punk and traditional Irish music together creating a totally new sound. They had plenty of plaudits and recognition and even managed to break out of the ‘Irish scene’ and became a genuinely popular band here in Europe and the USA. Shane MacGowan, their iconic lead singer and writer of the critically acclaimed Fairytale of New York, is now considered one of the best songwriters of his generation! At the time though many folk ‘traditionalists’ scoffed at them as being just a bunch of ignorant English pissheads out to ruin Irish music but this was before anyone realised there was about to be a massive outpouring of ‘Irish pride’ from thousands upon thousands of second and third generation Irish from outside the isle of Ireland. The Pogues spearheaded this and along with Celtic F.C and the Irish football team (itself packed to the rafters with 2nd and 3rd generation Irish players) came to represent us in our Irishness. The thing the traditionalists didn’t understand was that even though we were into modern music we’d grown up listening to The Wolfe Tones, Dubliners, Clancy Brothers etc., (even Country’n’Irish!) as children so a band like the Pogues coming along wasn’t a shock to us but the folk establishment sure as hell didn’t like it!

Jump to today and its the Dropkick Murphys who are the worlds celtic-punks most popular and famous band. They started off as a Oi!/punk band with no Irish/celtic music only some Irish imagery on their record sleeves and merchandise. They kind of, in their own words, “started out as a joke” and didn’t seek out acclaim, but they rapidly grew in popularity due in no small part to the many, many people in the US who have celtic heritage and celebrate it. Over the years they’ve adapted Irish music and instruments and songs into the mix to create today’s celtic-punk. The Dropkick’s represent what it is to be celtic/Irish in modern day America (being working class, the fight against oppression, overcoming adversity, toughness, family bonds, religion/ Catholicism etc.,) but overall its still The Pogues that best embody celtic-punk. They were the first band of the scene and their music and lyrics are closer to the source. The Dropkick Murphys put more of an Irish-American spin on their songs, The Pogues are more about the history therefore, especially to those of us outside North America, the songs of The Pogues are more authentic with more Irish themes and fewer American ones.

The globalization of celtic music through emigration, in which oppression and poverty were the main reasons people left, has spread the influence of celtic music across the globe, even outside of the usual haunts of the Americas, Australia, NZ and here. Celtic-punk bands exist in pretty much every country where a son or daughter of a celt has set foot. It has also spread to the land of origin of the other celtic nations, with very healthy scenes in Brittany and Galicia helping to rejuvenate the native languages. Use of traditional instruments- fiddle, tin whistle, banjo, accordion, bagpipes is higher now than it has been in decades, again due in no small part to the popularity of celtic-punk.

Celtic-punk reflects the heritage of celtic people and the fight against oppression. It embodies the history of what it is to be celtic and what it is to overcome hardships and to finally come out on top.

It is where we come from but don’t you worry this is no exclusive club… everybody’s welcome to the hooley.

This isn’t meant as an introduction to celtic-punk or even a potted history it’s just one man’s small attempt to unravel what it is that makes the music so appealing to himself and countless others. If you agree or disagree we’d love to hear your comments…

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ALBUM REVIEW: IRISH MOUTARDE- ‘Raise ‘Em All’ (2013)

“Electric guitars, bagpipe and whisky: Celtic rock as it should be”

Moutarde1

Moutarde2Formed in 2009 in Quebec city (a French speaking province of Canada) as a covers band playing traditional Irish songs but with a punk feel and attitude  and they’ve now gone on to develop into one of Canada’s best new celtic-punk bands. This their debut album  has exploded across the globe and brought them to everyone’s attention with reviews from your usual suspects like Celtic Folk Punk & More and Celtic Music Fan to loads more with no connection to celtic-punk.

Moutarde3Combining the usual punk rock instruments with banjo, mandolin and highland bagpipes, on my first listen they instantly reminded me of a celtic-punk NOFX. Rapid drumming and the up-tempo songs add a touch of rock, punk, celtic and even metal yet it all remains totally accessible in that unique celtic-punk way so that your punky mates as well as your mammy right down to yer wee nephews and nieces would love it. Of course it helps that the vocals are both crystal clear and perfectly sung whether on the ballad ‘Glasses To The Sky’ or the most NOFXie song ‘The Black Mill’. The most unusual thing about IRISH MOUTARDE is that they have duel male and female vocals. In a scene where the audiences are split evenly the actual bands with female vocalists are few and far between, BRUTUS DAUGHTER from Spain/Astures being the only one that springs to mind, most females are confined to fiddle or tin whistle duties and the only usual times you hear female vocals are when someone is guesting on a album!

Moutarde5Fields Of Athenry’ and ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ are the LP’s only covers the rest is all self-penned and mostly in English. The lyrics are mostly about drinking and rebellion. Dominant themes in celtic-punk I know but what the fucks the matter with that I say! The bagpipes are a ever present and it goes without saying are what pushes the album into celtic-punk territory. The Irish diaspora over here in our tiny bit of western Europe never really ever embraced the bagpipes as they did in North America and although I do prefer the sound of the Irish uilleann pipes its the Scots bagpipes that were made for accompanying loud and rocking punk and rock music. You can hear bands like the DKM’s and Real McKenzies in there but they have made the sound their own and in a scene where it is increasingly hard to be original that is a incredible thing. Twelve tracks in all and not a disappointing one among them and the fact that they even managed to do ‘Fields’ without it being a clone of anyone else’s version puts this LP into the classics section already!

Moutarde4Contact The Band:

Web-Site Facebook You-Tube

Buy The Album: Here

Three Interesting Whisky-Fuelled Band Facts:
1. The name Irish Moutarde was chosen because it is a pun on the French expression “relish-moutarde,” which the founding band members felt the name was (and still is) humorous, light and expressed their musical quality.
2. The band’s mascot is Olaf the Irish Giraffe, who was created by fans of the band Julie Lévesque and Guillaume Racine. The sixth song on their debut album is a tribute to this whisky drinking, green metal giraffe who sports a long white mane and long white goatee.
3. Their first original song was based on a song from one of the novels that inspired the hit TV show Game of Thrones. The song came out a year before the show debuted.

INTERVIEW WITH JAY STEVENS FROM AUSTRALIAN BAND ‘BETWEEN THE WARS’

gig flyer
When we heard that Jay Stevens from the fantastic Aussie celtic-folk-punk band BETWEEN THE WARS was coming over to these shores to play a few solo shows we jumped at the chance to do the London leg of his tour. so we thought we’d ask him some stuff so we did and he answered it all and here it is now for you…
BTW
How long have you been playing with BTW? have you played with other bands previous? Between The Wars is a four year old band that I started, along with (ukulele player) Jason. He and I have played in plenty of bands before this one, but this is the longest I’ve ever been in a band. So many lineup changes, but we’ve been pretty solid for the last couple years. I started this band after hearing “Irish Londoner” by the Bible Code Sundays, who I get to play with on this upcoming tour!
jay5
Looks like the tour is shaping up into something special now. Who are you looking forward to playing with and any places youre looking forward to going? Being a Aussie have you been over here before? As I said before, Bible Code Sundays are a massive influence on me and our band, so I’m keen as hell to see them. Have also been a huge Neck fan for years so I’m excited to play a show with Leeson! Over the years I’ve made some good “internet” friends in England so with that in mind, I’m stoked to be playing a few shows with my boys from the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind – and swapping Office quotes in real life with Brendan O’Prey. I’ve been to England before, but not as an adult. Really excited to see London, watch a Blades game in Sheffield (lifelong Sheffield United fan) and to also see the Scottish villages of Stranraer & Portpatrick, where I will also be attending my cousin’s wedding! If you’re looking for a decent League One side to watch you should get along to Leyton Orient. At time of writing we’re top of the league! If I was looking for a decent League One side to watch, I wouldn’t be a Blades fan.

As the singer and main songwriter of the excellent Between The Wars how did you get into celtic-punk music? Was it through family or other music? I have to hand it to old mate John McCullagh, actually. I was in a bit of a hole, musically. After having kids and whilst I was watching my marriage go down the drain, I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I wanted to be in a band again. I was teaching John’s son (John Lennon McCullagh, now signed to Alan McGee’s label 359 Music in the UK) to play guitar, and John and I would always have banter about Bob Dylan, Celtic, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis etc after the lessons. He showed me a few songs he’d written and we got together a few times and played them. One of those songs was Ride On by Christy Moore. I hadn’t heard Christy before but I am in love with him now. From there, I looked up as much celtic folk, and then celtic folk punk, as I could – I’d been a fan of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly for ages but never looked outside of that. I came across the Biblecode Sundays, and my musical life changed.
jay4
I’ve always thought that Australian celtic-punk has been a cut above, both musically and lyrically, bands from Europe and the States. I cant put me finger on it but does the Oz celtic diaspora experience contribute to this or are you all just better writers and musicians? I think we bring our own style to it. There have been a bunch of amazing Australian artists over the years, both in folk, punk and rock music. Personally I’m a huge fan of an old Aussie band called Weddings Parties Anything. I’ve always looked to them for influence, as well as celtic bands that tell stories – and not just stories of drinking. The difference between listening to the Wolfe Tones rather than the Dropkick Murphys means perhaps a little bit more storytelling in the writing. I suppose any country with the legendary Ned Kelly as its symbol of resistance is gonna produce cracking music! Who are the Aussie celtic/folk-punk bands we should look out for? Heard any news on The Rumjacks getting back together? Yep, that’s definitely happening. Caught up with Johnny McKelvey at a show we played with the Real McKenzies and it looks like the album that was made at the start of last year will show its head. As for Aussie bands, you can never go past our good mates the Ramshackle Army. They are just finishing up their new record which should be a cracker. Also a fan of Paddy McHugh and the Goldminers, Handsome Young Strangers and our old mates in Mutiny who have just released a twenty year retrospective.
jay2Theres always been a lot of debate in celtic punk circles about so-called ‘foreign’ bands playing (stealing?) traditional folk music without respecting where it comes from. Do you think it matters much or at all? I don’t know too much about bands that steal or play traditional folk without the respect. We try to pay respect as much as we can to those that have come before – we’ve played the traditional folk song Barbara Allen, for example. I think ultimately music belongs to everyone – the more people that play or listen has got to be a good thing for music in general. No-one has any right to claim music as their own personal property. Providing you know where it comes from, I can’t see an issue – i’m well aware that our music represents bands that have come before like the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and the Pogues. I know the stories behind most of the songs I listen to, in regards to rebel songs and the like. There is a lot of snobbery around especially about the drinking songs. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? i think celtic-punk reflects the good and bad things in the lives of ordinary people. This could be both getting pissed and being a alcoholic and lets face it it very much part of celtic culture whether we approve of it or not.

Without giving the game away too much what can we expect to look forward to on this tour? who are your influences as both a solo artist and as BTWs frontman? I’ve sat down with all of our songs and played around with them acoustically. Expect some songs to be a lot softer, and some songs to remain that raucous way that we’re known for. Influences – hmm, this is a tough one. I have a huge list of influences ranging from the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and Christy Moore, through to Frank Turner, Matt Pryor, The Boy Least Likely To. Of course, Bruce Springsteen is probably one of my bigger influences – but more in lyrics than anything else. Too many bands these days try to ape Springsteen’s voice and it kind of shits me. I take a lot of influence from literature as well as stories of war. Anything where I can be on the side of the underdog makes me write.
 When you get back home after the tour what you going to be up to with the band? Any plans to keep up the solo stuff? The solo stuff is actually my priority at the moment, I’m in the studio recording a solo record, which will be a collection of songs – some originals, some covers, and a Between The Wars song. I’m really looking forward to that being released early next year. When I get back from the UK, I’m going to sit down with Jason and we’re going to write the next batch of Between The Wars songs. I’m keen on getting back to the roots of our sound after the last record. There’s a band from Melbourne that has actually just got back together called Catgut Mary and I think I’m looking to them as well as mates like the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind to give me some influence on the next lot. I’d like the band to get back into the studio early to mid-next year, with a view to a late 2014 release. Looking forward to meeting friends that I only know via facebook, and making new friends. Can’t wait to teach you all the shoey!
jayDiscography:
Carried Away- 2010
The Rats- 2011
The Aces Are Coming- 2011
New Ruins- 2012
Won’t Go Quietly-2013
Tour Details Here:
The ‘I Hear You’re In For A Cold One…’ Tour traverses the land from London to Glasgow throughout October providing solo acoustic  re-imaginings of Between The Wars songs.
Come along for a night of fun folk music about drinking, heartbreak, regret, drinking, drinking and drinking…
Between The Wars:
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