London based five piece Man the Lifeboats play raucous, upbeat folk music. Their debut EP is four songs of full-throttle, upbeat contemporary folk music to drink, dance and sing along to…
Now before i start have to admit that I never really got the Skinny Lister thing. While all around me people and friends were renting and raving about how brilliant they are I remained marooned on my desert island a lone voice against the many. Maybe it was their unbridled cheerfulness or that in the early days all their merchandise was festooned with the ‘Butchers Apron’ but I may have to have a re-think though as relatively new band on the London scene Man The Lifeboats cite them as their main influence and therefore there has to be something I am missing out on.
Formed in the wake of seeing Skinny Lister live in concert in 2016 this is the debut EP from Man The Lifeboats. It was recorded at Soup Studios on a floating lightship studio on the river Thames – where else! – and was produced, engineered and mixed by Ed Ripley who has worked extensively with the oft mentioned Skinny Lister.
The EP begins with ‘Doomed’ and its bouncy upbeat fast paced folk music from the first beat. Harvey’s mandolin is the most ‘in-yer-face’ instrument along with Rich’s vocals and it works perfectly. Perhaps Daniels fiddle could have been louder but that is a very minor gripe on a song that fits together perfectly. The lyrics belie the jollyness of the song as it repeats that we are doomed with the rising of the sea levels and pollution but done with lashings of humour that will raise a smile or two.
“We’re all doomedThe four horsemen are coming, we’re maroonedTime to go and colonise the moonThis is the sound of impending doom“
The video for ‘Doomed’ was released last May and was the first sign that Man The Lifeboats were on the way.
This is followed up by ‘A Wasted Life’ and this song reminds me a little of my favourite bands The Housemartins. Massive at their time in the mid-80’s they are completely forgotten about now but as well as their superb agit-pop they also wrote some great ‘folk’ tunes. Again Harvey’s mandolin is to the fore and the fiddle is louder here too and with the addition of one of the most under-rated instruments in Celtic-Punk the harmonica its a great tune and with clever and insightful lyrics about the common theme, the havoc that over indulgence in alcohol can wage against us.
“YeahWhy should I care?I’m going down the drinkI’ll see you thereAnd I wouldn’t be pretending I was Hemingway or ReedIf I could write a happy endingTo this wasted life I lead”
All the songs here are written by the band but the lyrics are by Rich the vocalist and he is very much in the tradition of a singer-storyteller. The songs have an auto-biographical feel to them and all are interesting in many different ways whether he’s trying to make some political point or excuse some drunken escapade in the dark past of days gone by. On ‘My Westferry Sweetheart’ he sings of the time
“I had a sweetheart who lived down on Westferry RoadOn the banks of the Victorian Thames”
“And you know how the story ends”
The EP came out just a couple of weeks ago on the 22nd June and the Bhoys played the EP launch party to a packed audience at the Nambuca in north London. With great tunes and a catchyness about everything they do Man The Lifeboats have their fare share of problems with band members but with a settled crew on board now they look set for further and better things. With lyrics that tell stories about real heartfelt events that raise a smile and a hackle, when needed, along with some beautiful fiddle and mandolin melodies and a stomping beat Man The Lifeboats have created a sound that is pretty unique among the London folk and punk , and folk-punk, scene. Put it all together and you are sure of a blistering live experience. You can catch Man The Lifeboats soon playing as main support to those lovable Aussie Celtic-Punk rogues The Rumjacks at the New Cross Inn in South London on Monday 6th August (check out the Facebook event for that gig here). As someone said a ‘tonic for these troubled times’.
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