Tag Archives: The Alt

ODDS’N’SODS. A CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP MAY 2022

As we transition from wet and cold winter to wet and cold summer it’ll soon be time to reveal your ‘covid’ body in all its glory to the watching world so to help take your mind of that here’s another Odds’n’Sods. A whole load of Celtic-Punk entertainment from all the scene’s bands big and small, established or just starting out.

Italian band UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS deserve to be bigger than the Dropkicks and the Mollys in my opinion. With some cracking albums behind them their back with a new video for a song taken from their 2020 album The Men Beyond the Glass.

PADDY AND THE RATS have a new album out this month, From Wasteland To Wonderland, out on the 29th via Napalm Records. The first single, ‘After The Rain’, is now out and is dedicated to the bands accordion player Bernát Babicsek, who went by the stage name Bernie Bellamy, who sadly passed away earlier this year. The song celebrates Bernát ensuring that he will sail forever in the Rats and their fans hearts. The album is available for pre-order from Napalm.

We’d like to dedicate the first single of the album to Bernie and to express all our emotions through the song we release first. That’s why we’ve chosen ‘After The Rain’. It’s a sad song but it also has a fully positive vibe. Sadness and desperation are there through the whole song, but meanwhile, you can feel something powerful when the pipe and the accordion come in at the drop. It conveys the feeling that you have to be strong and you have to move on. The last line in the chorus says: ‘After the rain, sunshine will never be the same’.

‘Luton Irish Folk-Rockers MISSING THE FERRY have a new single out, ‘Castlebar’ which will be the last release before their debut album coming later this year! The song is about the emigrants’ yearning to return home to Ireland. For many, they only made it in a casket. Despite such a serious subject matter, ‘Castlebar’ is an  upbeat celebration of life, of music and of London-Irish culture. The song begins with a poem inspired by Beatrice Mugan and read by three of the bands Mammy, Roseanna, both Roscommon girls who arrived in London and St Albans in the 1960’s and became nurses.

We recently reviewed the debut album from Boston band SLAINTE and the album featured ANNIE CHIVERS on a couple of tracks who has just released a new single ‘Big Kid’ from her upcoming EP.

THE RUMJACKS have a new 6-track split EP out in a few days with FLATFOOT 56. Last month we had Flatfoots song so look that up and we will have the low down on it soon so be sure to check that out but here’s their first single from it. It’s available for pre-order from https://snd.click/SplitEP.

I finally at last got to see the amazing Yorkshire banjo Punks SHANGHAI TREASON and they were every bit as good as I had imagined over the three years I’ve been waiting to see them! Blowing some much more famous bands off the stage. They just released a B-Sides EP featuring songs that never made their debut album, which in my book is the #1 Celtic-Punk album of the year. https://open.spotify.com/album/66aL6qH2yRUStU8PbfQ3W6

THE MOORINGS are back with a class new album and first single ‘Nothing Is Going My Way’ is a great opener. Looking forward to hearing this as I’ve always really enjoyed their previous releases.

THE ALT are a Irish-American supergroup consisting of the trio of Nuala Kennedy, John Doyle and Eamon O’Leary, all of who have become very much stars of Irish Folk music through their solo works and collaborations over the years. The songs here come from traditional music archives, poetry and original compositions including three songs in Gaelic. Outstanding album!

“Our ancestors rarely met, seldom mingled. Would the yearnings for one lost world speak to those who’d lost another?” AMID THE MIRK AND OVER THE IRK is an amazing and fascinating collaboration between Irish and Klezmer Folk music traditions and the children of Irish and Jewish immigrants to Manchester.

Five piece English band ONE EYED GOD just released a new album, A Land Fit For Heroes, featuring some rather nice bouncy fun Folky-Punkyness. The album includes lots of elements of Celtic Folk, Reggae, Ska, Dub and Klezmer and you will no doubt come across them this Summer playing out doors in the sun somewhere in southern England during festival season.

Conceived in the bowels of Belfast THE SCUNTZ have a new single just out. An unholy trinity of Punk, Folk and Cider. It’s the first release from their new album Fall Apart Gang. For the first time in a few years theirs a few home grown bands playing Celtic-Punk’ish type music so as usual support them.

THE REAL McKENZIES – Float Me Boat (review coming!)

IN FOR A PENNY – In Memory Of

THE ROYAL SPUDS – Roots Of Life (review coming!)

THE DREADNOUGHTS – Roll And Go

PADDY AND THE RATS – From Wasteland To Wonderland

THEIGNS AND THEALLS – Theigns And Thralls

THE MOORINGS – March On ?

Remember we can’t review it if we don’t hear it

Blast from The Past is dedicated to bands, many of whom are no more, who put out great music but were never featured on these pages at the time. Usually they come with a free download link. This months band is 7-piece Irish Punk’s ST. BUSHMILLS CHOIR from Seattle. They originally came from a group of friends from other bands and before releasing this classic of American Celtic-Punk. Produced by Jack Endino of Nirvana fame the album captures the energy of a live show. “Unrelenting, Punked-out Irish jigs and expert musicianship recalls The Pogues, Stiff Little Fingers, and dare we say it, The Clash” it really is an excellent album and featured in our Best Celtic-Punk Albums Of All Time list from 2014. Available as a ‘name your price’ download so free if you like or if you’re a politician £1000!

Cancelled in the original Covid lock down we were really looking forward to the long awaited re-arranged MR. IRISH BASTARD English tour later this month. One of Europe’s ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands it was bound to be a treat but sadly the tour is kaput … off! Hopefullly to be re-arranged soon. The good news though is that London Celtic-Punk fans have a gig just up the road on May 21st with a utterly fantastic gig the same night in Guildford with some right proper stars of the English Celtic-Punk scene with EAST TOWN PIRATES, MICK O’TOOLESINFUL MAGGIE and Emergency Bitter. Check the Facebook event for more details. Gothic Americana band HEATHEN APOSTLES have their most extensive tour of Europe from the end of May till the end of June through mainly Germany. We are pleased to announce the first London Celtic Punks gig in a couple of years with Italian band DIRTY ARTICHOKES – the tidiest Celtic-Punk band in the Celtic-Punk scene – returning to town at the beginning of August and will be playing with THE LAGAN and ANTO MORRA, two artists popular on the London Irish music scene that sadly haven’t been able to play much of late. The gig will be at the Bird’s Nest in Deptford and all details are on the Facebook event.

PAIRC FESTIVAL is probably the biggest celebration of Irish culture on this island this Summer. Taking place in Birmingham over August Bank Holiday Weekend. The 26th – 28th sees a bunch of the best and brightest acts playing – FINBAR FUREY, DAMIEN DEMPSEY, HOTHOUSE FLOWERS, BEOGA, SHARON SHANNON and many more. Shame they couldn’t have found room for some 2nd /3rd generation bands but still an outstanding line up. http://paircfestival.com/

Really cool interview with Michael O’Grady from THE MAHONES from Canadian Breakfast TV. He talks about what it means to him and his favourite part’s of the day and what NOT to do at the pub. Michael came us pretty well occupied with his brilliant live streams during lockdown so look forward to seeing him up on stage again soon.

Not many of us really believed that THE MAHONES retirement from touring would last long and they recently announced new dates in Ireland plus the imminent release of new album, Jameson Street, coming soon.

If you like what we do then you can support us by checking out our online store. The Harp’n’Bones design is back in all sizes and on black or white shirts. Also we have new polo shirts, in all sizes, and some nifty wooly hats as well as the Green’n’White ‘Skully Cap’ ringer shirts. Click the link below for the full range of all our other tatt. Shirts, badges, stickers, flags, CD’s and fridge magnets all the discerning Celtic-Punk fan could ever need! Help keep Punk Celtic!  https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/

Facebook is shit. Proper shit. That the world’s most ‘popular’ social media site has only 2/5 in the play app store says it all! It’s stranglehold on all forms of expression is not good and it’s great to see people leaving in droves. Don’t despair though if you are one of them as you can keep up with London Celtic Punks posts via our wee group on the phone app Telegram. Similar in style (but better and easier to use) to What’s App but completely free from outside interference. Join us on Telegram, don’t miss a single post and even receive the odd exclusive and special offer! https://t.me/londoncelticpunks/  

Even though we hate it Facebook does supply the (very) occasional ray of sunshine so a shout out to some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans just like you and me. Like and join in the fun!

No better way to welcome in the new season than THE UNDERTONES and a piece of classic Irish Pop-Punk. Best wishes to founding member Billy Doherty on his recent illness too. Hope all is better there. Till next time Folk-Punk folks! The lads have a new compilation out called Dig What You Need out now and available all over the place.

A reminder too that we need your news so anything you would like to share with the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene send it onto us.

If you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Bands, promoters, record labels, venues send in any news to londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or via the Contact Us page.

ODDS’N’SODS. A CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP FEBRUARY 2022

A new year and the first Odds’n’Sods of 2022 and the biggest and best one yet.

A reminder too that we need your news so anything you would like to share with the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene send it onto us.

We start off with hearty congratulations, tipping of hats and raising of beers to Rémi Geffroy accordion player of TARA’S FOLK and THE BOOZE BROTHERS who has just been made world champion for diatonic accordion with 3 button rank. An amazing achievement and literal proof that Celtic-Punk does have some of the best musicians in the world!

We like to champion new music. After all you can’t just sit at home listening to Rum, Sodomy And The Lash for the rest of your days so delighted to hear the debut single from SALTY SPITOONS all the way from that Celtic-Punk paradise Indonesia.

Just like buses along came another amazing Indonesian band PANGLIMA KUMBANG and their new single. I hate Spotify but if you would like to hear more from this fantastic scene check out the Indonesia Celtic Punk/ Irish Connection playlist.

French band THE MOORINGS have a new album out on St. Patrick’s Day and have released one song ‘Cheers’ and put the album up for pre-release sale on Bandcamp.

Irish label ROTATOR VINYL RECORDS are set to officially release the debut album from Dublin based Punk band THE DUBTONES in April but it’s already up on Bandcamp.

Ace American band THE KILLIGANS release a new EP on March 1st featuring a collection of darker songs written during the pandemic. Highlighting three different songwriters and a Killigans rendition of a Eastern European sausage ballad.

Premier league Aussie Celtic-Punk band THE GO-SET are working on a new EP. 4-5 songs that will hopefully be released around April and they will ne touring very soon.

American-Irish Folk band THE ALT release Day Is Come this week. The Alt are John Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’ Leary and each are at the top of their game when it comes to Folk and Roots music. Seven years on from their superb debut album they are back!

One of the first bands we featured on this site was IRISH MOUTARDE from Quebec. At the time they had amassed quite the following but things have been a little quiet over the last few years so we were delighted to hear their new single ‘Vive Le Vent’. Sadly it came too late for our 2021 Christmas songs round-up so apologies but “we can’t review it if we don’t hear it”. 

Basque band McONAK are a band we have been aware of but never got the chance to review so here’s their recent single ‘Kontrolatzen’ featuring Fermin Muguruza.

The song is taken from their 10th anniversary album Bitakora from December last year available from Bandcamp.

Irish Folk-Rock pioneers Tír na nÓg have a new album out, Live 1970-71, featuring live tracks from their earliest days. Some of which have lay hidden away in the vaults since they were first recorded.

THE ALT – Day Is Come

JAMIE CLARKE’S PERFECT – Monkey See, Monkey Do

TIR NA nOG – Live 1970-71

SYR – Sentinel

THE CLOVERHEARTS – The Sick And The Sacred Acoustic

remember we can’t review it if we don’t hear it

Over two decades, Michael Croland has been a Celtic punk superfan and wondered whether he was Irish in another life. He has just published a new book, CELTIC PUNK SUPERFAN! and it’s available from Amazon in paperback ($4.99) and eBook ($2.99). This anthology celebrates the full glory of the Celtic punk rainbow, from the progenitor Pogues to Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys to second-tier old faithful’s and obscure Latin American artists.

Today we present a band from God’s Own country! FOXES FAUX a seven piece acoustic country / folk / punk rock band from Keighley in West Yorkshire. The band have a couple of studio albums behind them but today’s offering Lost Fox is a collection of stand alone recordings, B-sides, EP tracks and four unreleased songs and is available as a ‘name your price’ download. Not a band I know much about except i do recall them playing London at least once and I was delighted to see on their Facebook page that they are still treading the boards round their local town. Upbeat, Folk-Rock of the Lev’s variety and no doubt brilliant fun to watch live.

THE MYSTERIOUS WHEELS have been playing tight, authentic Blues and R&B for over 40 years but for thirty-five of them lead singer Andrew Ranken was a bit busy playing drums for another band (!). Same Shoes New Blues is only their second album in all that time and showcases the band on top form, featuring all original material. The band look forward to playing live again and as we have had several failed attempts at booking them well you never know!

We start with the sad news that THE RUMJACKS extensive UK tour with ‘banjo punx’ SHANGHAI TREASON has now been postponed. No details as yet of re-arranged dates. A couple of gigs to pre-book now. THE WOLFE TONES postponed dates are back on at the London Irish Centre on Feb 23/24. GLENN HODGE BANNED and DYLAN WALSHE are both favourites of the site so even better their both together on the same bill at The Green Note in Camden on April 5th. This will sell out so be sure to get your tickets soon as possible. MR. IRISH BASTARD had their original tour cancelled right back at the beginning of the first lockdown but they are back and set to tour again hitting London at the New Cross Inn on 21st May. BELLOWHEAD are on tour in November. Relevant future dates are all included over on the LCP events page on FB for Social Distortion, The Dreadnoughts, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and more.

RUSS RANKIN was also the lead singer in Punk bands GOOD RIDDANCE and ONLY CRIME and has only just followed up his 2012 debut solo album with it’s follow up Come Together Fall Apart of which ‘Statutes Of Kilkenny’ is featured.

Canadians SUMMER OF ’92 have just released a cover of the Bruce song ‘Lucky Town’ and made it available for ‘name your price’ download. Their excellent 2012 album Long Kesh is still available too.

Facebook is shit. Proper shit. It’s telling that it only has 2/5 in the play app store! It’s stranglehold on all forms of expression is not good and people are leaving in droves. Don’t despair though you can still keep up with London Celtic Punks posts via our group on the new phone app Telegram. Very similar in style (but better and easier to use) than What’s App but the best thing of all is that it is completely free from outside interference. Join us on Telegram, don’t miss a single post and even receive the odd exclusive and special offer! https://t.me/londoncelticpunks/  

If you like what we do then you can support us by checking out our online store. Just in this month are Polo shirts, in all sizes, and some nifty wooly hats as well as the Green’n’White ‘Skully Cap’ ringer shirts. Sizes for some of the older designs are limited so check carefully. Click the link below for the full range of all our other tatt. Shirts, badges, stickers, flags, CD’s and fridge magnets all the discerning Celtic-Punk fan could ever need! Help keep Punk Celtic!  https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans just like you and me. Like and join in the fun!

Be sure to check back this Thursday for quite the feather in the site’s cap. We are unbelievably proud / chuffed to bits to have been able to preview the new album from the legendary IAN PROWSE. Not only that but next Sunday we have a exclusive LCP interview with TheCelticPunkAuthor and Ian. Raised on protest songs and influenced by the Celtic sounds that make Liverpool so unique, Ian has cemented his cult following over twenty five years with indie bands Pele, a five piece alternative rock ‘n’ pop band with an infusion of Celtic sounds, and Amsterdam and now as a solo artist renowned for his incendiary live shows. NOT TO BE MISSED!!!! 

If you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Bands, promoters, record labels, venues send in any news to londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or via the Contact Us page.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS OUR BEST OF 2014!

TOP TWENTY CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS OF 2014

Last year our ‘Best Of’ list was completely dominated by bands from these shores but this time there’s a much more international flavour to 2014’s Best Album’s list. Again Irish influenced bands dominate but the absolute standout album for me was without a doubt Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards from Italy who nailed their fusion of punk rock and traditional music completely. With their own roots and influences included along with some amazing uilleann piping they are deserved winners of the Best Album spot. Kitchen Implosion join them in what has been a great year for Italian bands. Sure not all of these twenty bands are celtic-punk in the dictionary definition of the phrase but sod that anyway. These are what we liked and they all fit in in some way. Twenty bands from thirteen countries (Italy, England, Sweden, Brittany, Canada, Ireland, USA, Australia, Brazil, Catalonia, Germany, Switzerland and Belguim) which only goes to show the international appeal of the celtic-punk scene these days. A special mention for London Irish band Creeds Cross superb debut album. Only just caught them live and they were awesome so hoping to see much more of them around town in 2015.
As ever we have reviewed some, though not all of these albums, so click (here) after the title and you will be re-directed to our review.
We compiled the ‘Best Of’ lists together from the scraps of paper handed to me by the various admins from the London Celtic Punks facebook page.
1. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘Get The Folk Out!’ (here)
2. CREEDS CROSS- ‘Gods And Fighting Men (here)
3. ROVERS AHEAD- Always The Sinner, Never The Saint (here)
4. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- Tan Ar Bobl (here)
5. THE MAHONES- The Hunger And The Fight
6. BLOOD OR WHISKEY- Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil (here)
7. THE ROUGHNECK RIOT- Out Of Anger
8. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Rise Of The Bastard (here)
9. JAY WARS- Carry Me Home (here)
10. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- Letters from the Road Less Travelled
11. 6’10- The Humble Beginnings Of A Rovin’ Soul (here)
12. LUGH- Quando Os Canecos Batem (here)
13. SIGELPA- TerraMorte (here)
14. KITCHEN IMPLOSION- Pretty Work Brave Boys! (here)
15. THE KILKENNY KNIGHTS- Bradys Pub Tales (here)
16. BEYOND THE FIELDS- The Falcon Lives (here)
17. THE YOUNG DUBLINERS- ‘Nine (here)
18. KELTIKON- Agenbite Of Inwit (here)
19. FM 359- Truth, Love And Liberty (here)
20. THE BLACK TARTAN CLAN – Scotland in Our Hearts
a special special mention for three absolutely brilliant compilation albums too. Can’t really include them in the Best of charts so heres all three in no particular order at all as they are all 11 out of 10!
a class album with 4 songs per band and an absolutely beautifully put together record. THE PORTERS/ THE JUDAS BUNCH/ THE MAHONES/ MALASANERS 4-WAY SPLIT DOUBLE ALBUM- ‘Welcome To The Folk Punk Show’ (2014)  here
a mostly Russian compilation paying tribute to all (lets just face it they are!) our favourite celtic-punk band- ‘Ex-USSR Tribute To The Dropkick Murphys’ (2014)  here
this ought to be the number one album of the year to be honest. a fecking amazing compilation of Indonesian celtic-punk bands.the quality is amazing throughout.absolutely stunning. I cannot recommend enough!! ‘Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic-Punk Compilation’ (2014)  here

TOP FIVE CELTIC PUNK EP’S OF 2015

No question which EP deserved this and Russia’s Middle Class Bastards just blasted us away with their follow up to their 2013 album. Superb use of bagpipes and brass instruments combined with fast but tuneful punk rock. A bit unfortunate for Black Water County who looked nailed on to win this for most of the year with their fantastic 2nd EP. The Breton band The Maggie Whackers released their EP back at the start of the year while The South Sea Ramblers from South Africa literally released theirs just a couple of weeks ago while LQR from Holland slipped theirs out in time for St Patricks Day… ooh err missus! So spread out across the year but these are the ones that left their mark. Looking forward to hearing more from them all and long players must be arriving soon I hope.
1. MIDDLE CLASS BASTARD- Rebel To The Core (here)
2. BLACK WATER COUNTY- Fellowship Of the Craic (here)
3. THE MAGGIE WHACKERS- Naoned Whisky (here)
4. LQR- A Touch Of Liquor (here)
5. SOUTH SHORE RAMBLERS- Bare Knuckle Blackout

TOP FIVE TRAD ALBUMS OF 2014

As the blog is for (mostly) celtic punk so it is that we only review stuff that isn’t celtic punk if we really really (really!!) like it. All these rocked our boat and we loved them all to bits. Hard to decide which order they should go in but this is how we ended up. Turned out to be an all Irish list with I DRAW SLOW from Dublin with beautiful alternative country sounds and both Cork’s THE BUACHAILLS and London’s THE CRAICHEADS going head to head with both bands playing similar styles of music while Irish-American supergroup THE ALT’s debut album was a worthy runner-up to fellow Irish-Americans RUNA’s brillliant fourth album.
1. RUNA- Current Affairs (here)
2. THE ALT- ‘The Alt (here)
3. THE CRAICHEADS- Brewed in London (here) 
3. THE BUACHAILLS- At Your Call (here)
5. I DRAW SLOW- ‘WhiteWave Chapel (here)

BEST CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE OF 2014

Celtic Folk Punk And More Blogonce again there is no question who gets this
CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE
 keeping the whole wide world up to date with what’s going on and who is doing who within celtic punk (and more!) while also supplying us with regular free downloads and free compilations. Waldo you’re great. Keep it up mate!

BEST GIGS

Apart from the ones we put on which were all amazing and showcased some amazing performances from JAY WARS and THE DEAD MAGGIES from Aus, THE GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS from Norway, a couple of benefit gigs for Mad Dog out The Popes (hope youre back on your guitar highkicking soon pal!), BLACK WATER COUNTY played their London debut and went down a fecking storm, me O’s mates STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY were as superb as ever and released a fantastic album. One of the major highlights was discovering the quintessential London Celtic Punk in ANTO MORRA and we look forward to working with him again in the future. We teamed up with fellow Londoners of Urbankelt and will be doing so again too.

I also saw DAVID ROVICS for the first time, THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG’s amazing 30th anniversary show was incredible, NECK and their sadly ended residency at TChances which had us all pissed on Polish lager on Sunday afternoons for the first 6 months of the year, FLOGGING MOLLY in Reading in June which showed they havent lost a thing and are as great as ever, THE POGUE TRADERS were the best Pogues tribute band I ever seen. Disappointing was missing so many gigs where I just didnt have the cash especially The Pogues various outings. THE STANFIELDS from Canada seemed like a decent bunch of lads but their London gig was a total rip-off. The pre-gig ticket price was £7-50 which more than doubled to £15 on the door on the night. Oi bands watch out for charlaten promoters won’t you? Rebellion music fest brings loads of decent bands over to play but that means that they all end up playing in the same week so I had to forgo THE GO-SET’s return to London. Missed out on THE WOLFE TONES London gigs too due to work. All three of them! THE LAGAN have been brilliant. Far far too many of their gigs to go into detail so we have choosen the whole of St Patricks Weekend as our Number One! With NECK playing three gigs over the weekend and both THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS and THE LAGAN playing on the same day as well it seen a clean sweep of all the London bands done. Afterwards sick days were phoned in, headache pills were taken and the best St Patricks in donkeys was had.
Now were just looking forward to catching THE DROPKICK MURPHYS ‘Celtic Invasion ‘ Tour in Dublin and London this year round St Patricks Day.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
 London Celtic Punks
Of course all these things are very subjective so don’t be dismayed if your album ain’t here. What appeals to one don’t neccessarily appeal to another. It would be impossible to keep up with the multitude of celtic-punk related releases so these are the best of of what we actually did get to hear. All the various sites in the celtic-punk family had different winners so to see what they thought check out the Best Of lists of the following sites…
click on the blog logo at the top of the page to find more of this kind of stuff…

ALBUM REVIEW: THE ALT- ‘Alt’ (2014)

The Alt- 'The Alt' (2014)
We don’t get to hear enough traditional music here at London Celtic Punks so we were blessed to receive this in the post from the good people over at Hearth Music. After all the roots of celtic-punk lay in traditional music every bit as much as punk so to ignore your roots is indeed a foolish thing.
On first glimpse I mistakenly took the Alt for the Irish pop supergroup of the mid-90’s of Tim Finn, Andy White and Liam Ó Maonlaí but no there’s a new Alt on the block and their pedigree could hardly be better and the word ‘supergroup’ could easily describe the new Alt as well. The three members of The Alt are John O’Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary. John was born and raised in Dublin, lives in Asheville, NC, and is one of the pre-eminent guitarists and vocalists of his generation. He has twice been Grammy-nominated for his work with the fantastic groundbreaking Irish-American band, Solas, and also for his duo recordings with the great Chicago fiddler, Liz Carroll. John met flutist and singer Nuala at the Celtic Colors festival and while touring in Europe the two hit it off while exploring songs and tunes in common. Nuala is considered one of the finest traditional flute players and a singer of great depth and emotion and has herself recorded three highly regarded solo cd’s for the Nashville based Compass Records. Conversant in both Irish and Scots she has spent part of her life in the Scots highlands. Looking to add a third voice to the band, John suggested his long-time friend and fellow Dubliner Eamon, who also plays guitar and bouzouki. A great collector of traditional song and tunes Eamon has spent many years working with Mick Moloney, Green Fields of America, Patrick Orceau and has been a stalwart of the fine NYC traditional music scene for many years. Along with Jefferson Hamer he is the other half of The Murphy Beds, a guitar, bouzouki, and vocals duo who play a unique blend of Irish and Appalachian traditional music.
John, Nuala and Eamon

John, Nuala and Eamon

Together The Alt have taken the Irish folk music world by storm with their debut album and there’s plenty more to come!
As John explains “Nuala and Eamon have been my friends for many, many years, and we’re all interested in songs and the idea of harmony singing, we felt that there was this huge emphasis [in Irish music] just on tunes and melody playing, so we wanted to get together and have a tour and an album just of lovely songs. We started working on that in Sligo a couple of years ago.”
John Doyle’s family hail from County Sligo and the shadow of the Knocknarea mountain. In Irish folklore it is said to be the final resting place of the ancient Irish warrior-queen Maeve. The ‘Alt’ is a storied glen on the side of Knocknarea. It was in this glen in the little village of Coolaney that The Alt first gathered to rehearse. Each member of the group is a avid collector of folk songs and the songs they played  reflect some of the songs they grew up hearing and others they have collected along the road, from friends and mentors, from archival recordings and written collections. With rehearsals over plans were made to record an album. They chose the quiet isolation of a small cabin in North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains. A part of the world with long historical roots back in the auld country, as well as Scotland, the Appalachian’s have long been associated with old-time music. It was in fact those immigrant communities that settled there that brought us the music that slowly evolved into country and bluegrass. The Alt are well aware of this history.
Recorded in just three days this album shows The Alt’s ease with their native music and at once delicate, deliberate and always in deference to the song at its core. On first listen to the album you are instantly reminded of  the classic Irish sounds of The Bothy Band and Planxty. It was in the 70’s that these bands were the first to create a fusion of the traditional unaccompanied solo singer and pipes, guitar and bouzouki.
“Eamon and I do a lot of two bouzouki stuff. We’re harkening back to what we listened to as kids, to what Andy [Irvine] and Dónal [Lunny] did in Planxty”
The Alt focus on songs  from the celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland as well as both Britain and America but it is from Ireland their main inspiration comes from. The first of the albums eleven tracks is ‘Lovely Nancy’ a low key, laid back version of this magnificent song which drifts long only to be interrupted by Nuala’s superb flute playing.  Despite the band members all being very capable of writing original material this album takes the traditional route and even though I am not particularly well versed in that world I did recognise a couple of tunes from my youth.

‘One Morning In May’ is one of the  album standouts. Gentle vocal music with Nuala’s voice soaring ably backed by John in the chorus. ‘Geese In The Bog/ Covering Ground’ is the first of two instrumentals and rattles along at a grand pace led by the flute and guitar. ‘Willie Angler’, a tune made most famous by 70’s Irish legends Silly Wizard, tells of a rogue attempting to seduce a young girl but who turns out to be not so bad after all. A story of a lad off to fight overseas is  behind ‘Going For A Soldier Jenny/ The Chandelier’ with a fine instrumental tune bringing it to a end. ‘Finn Waterside’ continues with Nuala singing of a girl saying goodbye to her home and her true love before she is exiled to America. Next up is ‘The Eighteen Of June’, as in 1815 the day of the beginning of the Battle Of Waterloo. A rare recording and beautifully arranged. ‘The Green Gowned Lass/ Danger Mouse/ Dan Breen’s’ is the albums other instrumental and, similar to the other, rattles along but leaves me unsure whether or not the middle tune is any sort of ode to the 80’s childhood cartoon rodent or indeed if the ending is a tribute to the south Tipperary born hero of the War Of Independence. With the album drawing to a close Nuala sings the beautiful ‘Cha Tig Mor Mo Bhean Dhachaigh’ a stunning and mournful song in Scots gaelic. Finally the album ends with ‘The Letter Song’ a choral version of an old song featuring John, Nuala and Eamon that tells the sad tale  based on a letter written by a preacher in Kentucky to his wife in New England, warning her not to join him because of the rough conditions there. Yet again beautifully presented.
So there you have it. A fantastic first offering from The Alt. Perfection in both music and vocals and then melded together.  As they’ve already said it’s the first album that surely implies more from this super group and I for one cannot wait!
 
Contact The Band
John Doyle  WebSite   Facebook   YouTube
Nuala Kennedy  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  Myspace
Eamon O’Leary  Bandcamp
Order The Album
you can read our review of John’s other band Solas and their masterpiece album ‘Shamrock City’ which won the 2013 LONDON CELTIC PUNKS TRAD ALBUM OF THE YEAR here
A wealth of trad and roots music can be found at Hearth Music here

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