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.
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?
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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”.
Sans Regrets Sans Remords
This great celtic-punk band were formed in the city of Nantes in 2009 and are at the forefront of an amazing Breton celtic-punk scene along with Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs and the Sons Of O’Flaherty. We noticed recently that our pages were starting to become a little dominated by solely Irish music so we’ve tried to rectify that by trying to cover more about the other celtic nations and their influences so recently we’ve had articles on Scotland and Wales.
Sadly one of the lesser known celtic nations is Brittany. Occupied by France since the 15th century it is simply incredible and a remarkable testament to the people that despite, in common with all the other celtic nations, centuries of repression, discrimination and emigration that Brittany has clung so solidly to its celtic roots. Their language is very closely related to both Cornish and Welsh and despite the French government being able to show the British a few things in how to suppress native languages more than a quarter million people still speak Breton fluently! Today estimates suggest over 20% of the population have a knowledge of Breton and with the language and independence movement stronger than it has been for decades things are looking good for Brittany and whose to say it wont follow Scotland and Catalonia into independence. The sooner the better say we!
This release follows the path of their 2011 self titled release in that it also has 5 songs, also has a couple of traditional covers and the rest of the EP is made up of funny, drinking and political songs. That first release got them plenty of critical acclaim but this was followed by a period of silence that led me to believe they had split up. I was delighted then to recently come across a video of them playing with hip-hop world superstar Macklemore (here) at a gig last year and that was followed by news of a St Patrick’s 2014 tour of Brittany with the aforementioned Sons Of O’Flaherty…that would surely have been a set of gigs to die for!
So what do you get here. First track is the celtic-punk standard ‘Drunken Sailor’ which starts off as you’d expect but soon speeds up and the fiddle, mandolin and tin-whistle are soon working overtime to keep up with the vocals. Track 2 is ‘Sans Regrets Sans Remords’ which translates as ‘Without Regrets Without Remorse’ and is the only song not in English and is also the EP’s most punk rock song though the Breton bagpipes stand out enormously. ‘Fucking Goblins’ makes use of the electric guitar and mandolin again in a song about drinking too much whiskey! The fourth track is ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday’, a trad Irish song made famous by the Godfathers of celtic-punk The Pogues and would I’m sure make them as pleased as punch to hear it. The final song is my favourite and I could be a bit biased here as the chorus to it is
“Burn in hell Maggie Thatcher”
ska, celt and punk collide in a real fist in the air singalong and brings this fantastic EP to a end. Don’t come along to the Maggie Whackers expecting to hear ‘Irish’ celtic-punk as Brittany has its own celtic ways and traditions and sounds and this is evident in everything the band do and ought to ensure they are heard far and wide.
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*By the way the title of the record is in Breton and simply means Nantes Whisky!
For everything you need to know about Brittany and its drive to independence The Breton Connection is an absolutely fantastic place to look so click here and find out more.