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ALBUM REVIEW: JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ (2017)

Let’s drink whiskey!

The new album from the fantastic six piece Hungarian band Jolly Jackers playing Irish-Celtic folk punk rock.

Things are said to go in cycles and the evidence is clear. They do. If 2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band then 2017 is going to be as well. This year we have already had Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with reviews from Firkin, The Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills. Three great records all released within a few days of each other. Well I can safely tell you that Jolly Jackers have kept up this incredible high standard with the release of their second long player Blood, Sweat And Beer. Not only that but while I was writing this review the new album, Hardfolk Shanties, by yet another Hungarian celtic-punk band, The Scarlet, popped through the letter box so expect a review of that any day soon.

Jolly Jackers: Guitar/Vocal- István ‘Sztivi’ Faragó * Flute- Andrea Boncz Bass- Enikő Papp * Drums, Percussion- Viktor Szepesi * Lead Guitar- Márk Fenyves Violin (on Blood Sweat And Beer)- Krisztina Ujházy

Jolly Jackers are a six piece band with three lasses and three lads that hail from Dunaújváros a working class city in central Hungary famed for its steelworks, which is the largest in the country. They were only formed on New Years Day 2013 and have risen in popularity and critical acclaim every year and show no sign of letting up. Their debut release was the five track EP Call The Captain which came out just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2014 and is available for free download at the link below.

They followed this up with their debut album Sobriety in January 2015 which again was mostly penned by the band themselves. Sobriety made the Top Twenty of the London Celtic Punks album of the year (here) back in 2015 with its fast paced original brand of celtic-punk going down a storm here at LCP Towers. Again Jolly Jackers have made it available for free download so again follow the link below to get your free copy.

So where does that leave us now in April 2017. Well the Bhoys and Ghirls have been hard at work to deliver another utterly brilliant album to their adoring fans. Blood, Sweat And Beer (and what a fantastic album title!) begins with ‘Back at Home’ and the sort of celtic intro that pops up to start many celtic-punk albums but it’s done with real style here. A nice pirate song that leads nicely into the title song ‘Blood Sweat And Beer’ and it does not disappoint. Sztivi’s vocals are all sung in English and even though his accent is quite pronounced it’s still very easy to understand. A really great drinkin’n’fightin’ song with great fiddle and flute pushing it along.

‘Devil’ is up next and begins with rather nifty guitar making you think you heading off in a completely different musical direction before the band pull it back into celtic-punk territory.

“Just please don’t let the devil dance on my grave!”

As seems quite in vogue among the European celtic-punk scene they throw in a whole load of ska into ‘Drive’ and again something tells me Jolly Jackers will be heading into that Top Twenty again come the end of the year. Catchy as hell and completely original. No two songs here have sound anything alike!

The first single release from Blood, Sweat And Beer was the standout track from the entire album, ‘Hymn for the Gang’, which was accompanied by an outstanding video that perfectly captures I am sure the live experience and the energy of a Jolly Jackers live show.

“One, two, three, four, five…
SIX days passed with troubles of life oh…
One, two, three, four, five…
Six rats helping us to survive oh…
This life is better together
This gang is here forever
It’s time to clink full glass”
It’s a loving tribute to being in a band and the camaraderie you get through the trials and tribulations that happen on the road. Led throughout by tin whistle and fiddle combined with the thrashy guitars, bass and drums keeping the song on track to glory. Nearing the end of the album and its all flying past at a frantic pace with ‘John Not the Silver’ is no different. A back track of punk rock but with an unmistakable Irish tune flowing throughout it. ‘Let It Rain’ finally slows it down for the album’s longest song. As I have said countless times before even the most hardcore punk bands in the celtic-punk scene benefit from a slow song to wave your arms (and pints) in the air.

Except though Jolly Jackers take no notice of me though, fortunately, and speed it right up again! The album ends with ‘Epilogue’ and I finally at the end get that slow song I have been whining on about.
Well what can I say except its another blinder and I can report also that they haven’t slowed down any either! Twenty-six minutes was the length of Sobriety and twenty-six minutes is the length here as well. The album flows ceaselessly and leaves you only wanting more. At home in both seedy punk venues as well as massive arena’s Jolly Jackers are living proof that it’s songs that get you places as well as good old fashioned things like touring and record releases. You can play as often as you like but if you don’t master your songs then you’ll go nowhere in the long run. They are yet another in a long line, and growing rapidly, of excellent releases from Hungary. Absolutely superb and recommended to anyone who likes their celtic-punk both folky AND punky.

Get Blood, Sweat And Beer

Here or iTunes for only £3.99!!!

Contact Jolly Jackers

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and if you are on Facebook then I am afraid I have to insist you trot along right now to the ‘Celtic Punk/Irish Folk Hungary’ group page here where a warm welcome and Hungarian celtic-punk galore awaits you!

(a full concert from Jolly Jackers recorded at the Triskell Festival in Italy last summer, Not perfect sound quality but who expects that all the time?)

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: FIRKIN- ‘Into The Night’ (2017)

Our Hungarian Celtic Punk week continues with the second of our three reviews and this time it stars the wonderful Firkin. As they say on their press “Firkin should not be seen, Firkin must be experienced! Firkin is good, firkin’ good!” and for once when talking about European celtic punk I can agree! For the final installment check back in a couple of days.

firkin-into-ep

Well here’s the second part of our Hungarian triple header. An EP released by one of the more prominent and internationally well known of the Hungarian celtic-punk bands. Firkin’s appeal doesn’t just stop with celtic-punk fans and they are one of the biggest bands in Hungary full stop and these days quite a draw across Europe too. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest they have released a bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. Their original vocalist Barna left since recording their last album, which we reviewed here, but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath!

firkin-band

Into The Night starts off with the title song ‘Into the Night’ and you can spot from the very off the different approach Firkin have to celtic-punk than The Crazy Rogues, who we reviewed the other day here. A far heavier sound erupts from the speakers and they manage to have both a trad Irish and punk sound going on at the same time. Their are some similarities though. The fiddle leads the way and also flute which is used a lot here to great effect. One of my favourite memories of that London NYE gig was PJ’s playing. You just couldn’t take your eyes off him so amazing was he to watch. For an instrument that sounds so Irish it does surprise me that not more bands use in it the scene especially when you hear bands like Firkin utilising it so well. Andy also sings in English and has a very strong and clear voice and again there is a very clear story telling way of writing song lyrics going on here. If they get off to a storming start to the EP they follow it up with the more Irish trad folk based ‘Flowers’. A beautiful song that shows Andy’s voice can easily manage both the folk and punk side to Firkin. Hey I tells you if your mammy wouldn’t like this this song then she got no taste! A song that swirls around Andy’s voice which is used another instrument alongside the flute here. Originally known as ‘The Flower of Magherally’ it has been recorded in the past mainly by the Irish trad community so was unknown to me but what a bloody good version this is I straight away thought.

We have a much more widely known cover up next with ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Mainly famous in these circles I would have thought for the Dropkick Murphys recording that Firkin stick fairly close to. A fast paced punky song with shouty chorus and fiddle lead. First published in 1867 and written by Joseph B. Geoghegan it remained popular in Britain and Ireland and the United States into the early years of the 20th century but it was when it was recorded by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem in 1961 that lead to a renewal of its popularity. An anti-war song that was used to great effect to stop Irishmen joining the British Army the story tells of an Irish woman who bumps into her former lover near Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland. He is badly disfigured, losing his legs, his arms, his eyes and his nose and is now begging. The woman though is happy to see him and the implication is that she looks after him so for once a happy ending in an Irish song! The EP comes to an end with a bonus song that I have heard before. ‘Focimese’ was the song that Firkin wrote for the European Football Championship last year to support the Hungarian football team. It’s a rollicking great tune with plenty “La, La, La, La La’s” to keep the fans happy and a chugging guitar that accompanies the fiddle. A song that inspired the team to top their initial group before sadly losing to Belgium 4-0 in the Round Of 16. Four great tunes that show exactly why Firkin are so sought after across Europe. A absolutely perfect mix of Irish and punk rock with a real story telling way to them and on top of that a really good live show as well.

Buy The EP  FromTheBand  iTunes  Amazon

Contact The Band  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud

So all in all our Hungarian celtic-punk week gets another thumbs up. Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final installment. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY AND THE RATS- ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ (2015)

“Hungary’s most famous Irish folk punk band”

Paddy And The Rats- Lonely Hearts Boulevard

Looking back on 2015 it will be forever known as the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band! Already this year we have reviewed releases by Loch Nesz, The Jolly Jackers, The Scarlet and The Crazy Rogues and we still haven’t got round to reviewing the new album by Firkin either!

PATR2Paddy And The Rats are probably the best known of all the Hungarian celtic-punk bands and deservedly so. Hard work and constant touring have paid dividends for the band and these days they are known throughout Europe for their superb records and great live shows. With three albums behind them- ‘Rats On Board’, ‘Hymns For Bastards’ and ‘Tales From The Docks’- I awaited this new album with bated breath and I am very glad to report I was not disappointed at all.

Formed in 2008 it was their love of Irish music, pirates and punk rock that inspired them to start a band up and they have been going strong and getting stronger ever since. The original celtic-punk sound is still evident on Lonely Hearts Boulevard but it is also clear that the band are moving slightly away from it too. No harm in that. Its called progression and I’d rather they did that than just stick to playing ‘The Wild Rover’ for evermore.

Lonely Hearts Boulevard begins with ‘Keep The Devil Down In The Hole’ but is not the famous Tom Waits/ The Wire song but classic celtic punk rock with great banjo playing and the closest you’ll get to a country and western fiddle being played in a punk rock band. Reminds me of Flogging Molly somewhat and that is never a bad thing. Following is the the title track and ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ follows much the same formula and is my favourite album track. Catchy as hell and a real toe tapper. On first listen you would take this album to be a real uplifting experience. The songs certainly bounce along with tons of energy but lyrically it’s a dark journey through pain, loneliness and struggle.

“Coz there’s a lot of pain
While we’re marching
Down through the life
And there’s a lot of fear
As we walk through the dark
On the Lonely Hearts Boulevard”

Bagpipes come in towards the end and complete the celtic sound. ‘My Sharona’ has a Sparks feel to it and is the first track without any sort of ‘celticness’. Still it rocks my boat and I am not complaining. Paddy And The Rats enter proper anthem territory with ‘Rogue’, a song that will I am sure get the audience on their feet at gigs.

Their first trip across the sea with a number about trying to keep one ahead of the navy while a bounty is placed on your head.

“Hold again
For the last sea and the friends
Take away my heart from this dusty land
They call me the rogue
But I’ll keep on looting, my friend
Let’s haul the rope again”

‘That’s My Nature’ is also one of the album stand out tracks and comes with a cracking video too. There’s a slight metal edge to the guitars and even though the ‘celtic-ness’ is toned down a bit here it’s still a great song. As with all the great celtic-punk premier league groups, to become one of the scene’s truly treasured bands it’s not just 110 mph fast fast fast you have to be master of the ballad too. Or at least for a minute or two before cranking it back up to 110 mph again. ‘Sleeping With The Winter’ is the former and is a welcome change after the previous five tracks. Very American sounding and the sort of track you could imagine any of the scene’s greats playing. Slow acoustic and with great heartfelt lyrics. ‘Drunker Than You’ is the closest on this album to Paddy And The Rats and their first album. A shitload of swearing accompanied by frantic fiddle, accordion and banjo and all the while Paddy O’Reilly shouting tunefully over the top. Paddy is a great front man and his voice fits perfectly.  ‘Captain Of My Soul’ continues with the celtic feel and begins with piano before fiddle jumps in and so begins a cracking song. Exactly what celtic-punk should be. A real punked up Irish tune with great lyrics too.

“I follow my lush heart
There’s immortal, lamp flame
I slunk like a wise wolf
Between lust and shame
If I let myself tempted
By the killing snake eyes
I forget my greedy vice”

The country/celtic of ‘Blue Eyes’ is a welcome slow down and the banjo picking is superb and leads us into a tale of debauchery in ‘Rock This City’ that any pirate would be proud of. The city is Budapest and with Paddy And The Rats in town I’m sure it is rocked to the max. Bagpipes give the song a nice Dropkick Murphys sound and if you close your eyes you could be in Boston.

“I outshined the sun
And I stole the moon
I fucked with the stars
On sunday afternoon
All of your dreams are made
If you wanna believe
I’ll put a smile on you
Before I leave”

Frantic punk rock drumming and electric guitar on ‘Time Is In My Hands’ can’t hide the celtic tune it’s wrapped around while ‘Without You (I Don’t Wanna Dance)’ is one of the more radio friendly album tracks and comes accompanied by a video with the band frollicking at the beach with a host of young maidens. This summery song sure is catchy enough but give me celtic-punk any day!

‘Junkyard Girl’ is a straight up punk tune with daft lyrics and Lonely Hearts Boulevard’s fourteen tracks comes to an end with ‘What We Are’. Again outstanding lyrics and a slower song building up and up. The ‘fist in the air’ song of the album by a long way. The song ends abruptly with the whole band singing along in a song that I would imagine means a lot to them personally.

 “Sometimes it’s hard to have the courage
To start all over again
But never be afraid to fight for yourself, my friend
Time is the longest distance
Between now and your dreams
Let’s find for you
A different point of view”

So there you have it. Don’t come along to ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ expecting the full on Irish/ celtic tunes of previous albums but instead expect a band not happy just to rest on their laurels, that continues to play celtic-punk but with more and more influences flooding in. That a lot of these songs were originally intended for a solo album explains a lot to me. Paddy And The Rats are going places and they won’t be confined to any genre just for the sake of it. Onwards and upwards but don’t worry just yet they are in no hurry to forget their celtic punk roots any time soon.

PATR1

Buy The Album

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Contact The Band

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a couple more interesting sites are the ‘Paddy And The Rats Fan Group’ here and the ‘Celtic Punk/irish Folk Hungary’ Facebook group here is a great community of like minded people.

here

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