A bunch of fun-lovin’, hard-drinkin’ lovers of Irish music that are gonna inspire you to have a good time. You’ll sing and dance and, if not careful, you just might learn something too…
The Ogham Stones formed back in 2010 in Lancaster in South Central Pennsylvania one of the oldest towns in the United States when a local Irish-American bartender finally had enough of Lancaster being the only town in the USA not to have a kick ass celtic-punk band. Like most of the East Coast of America the Irish are in plenty of supply and Irish culture flourishes among a people extremely proud of where their roots are from. Notable for its large rural Amish community (those people from the movie ‘Witness’) the urban areas were largely settled by Irish, German, Dutch, Italian and the English. So it was with the town crying out for a local celtic-punk band they could wear the t-shirt of! John the eventual singer of The Ogham Stones approached a piper he knew from playing out in the towns bars and asked if she wanted to start a band and the foundation’s were now laid to rope in a few more local Lancaster musicians and here we now are.
Numerous live shows later all over the East Coast and further afield it was time to get something down on record and so One,Two Feck You arrived on our doorstep and very pleased it did we are too. Taking their name from standing stones that contain the earliest known form of writing in Ireland. Thought to date from before the 4th century AD the Ogham alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. The Ogham alphabet was read from the left hand side bottom up, across the top and if need be down the other side. It is important as it shows that the Irish and their fellow Celt’s were far advanced of others in Europe in their use of language.
So you got a seven-piece Irish American celtic rock and punk band with a keen sense of history but the thing is are they any good and the answer by friend is not blowing in the wind it is that they are F**KING brilliant! From the first bars of wonderfully played bagpipes on the opening track ‘Minstrel Boy/Cadence To Arms’ you get the feeling that this band are in it to enjoy themselves. You’ll recognise it of course from The Dropkick Murphys debut album Do Or Die but The Ogham Stones give it their own treatment and superb it is too.
They follow this up with their own version of the traditional Irish song ‘Star Of The County Down’. Now this has been covered by a LOT of bands but lucky for us they don’t take the easy route and inject enough of themselves into it to stop it being just another bland cover. Something I don’t think would be possible for them to do. It reminds me mostly of The Lagan’s version with fiddle , tin whistle and electric guitar driving it along with a few metal rockouts!
The only fault I could find with One, Two F**k You is that their is not enough of The Ogham Stones original material. I say that as the best songs here are the ones not part of the ‘traditional’ scene and ‘The World Is Full Of Bastards’ is a fine example of this. Hilarious lyrics, great female vocals and superb musicians with a song guaranteed to get you singing and jigging along.
“Eh, the lad was oh-so-generous
Much more than you would think
He didn’t have a license
But he still drove me to drink
And I had no insecurities
So he gave me some of his
But I didn’t need his sorrow, man
I’m Irish as it is”
Written and performed by local novelty act Mary Prankster it sure gets the album moving and this is swiftly followed by another non-trad song and again ‘Wild Winds Of Misfortune’ is another cracker. By fellow ‘Lancky’ band Vinegar Creek Constituency they again mix it up and give it the Stones treatment. John’s vocals give it a real celtic feel and its the fiddle that dominates again before they lay their cards on the table and give us a couple of songs from the heart.
‘The Foggy Dew/Come Out Ye Black’n’Tans’ come straight from the massive book of Irish rebel songs and are well known in every corner of the globe among the Irish diaspora. ‘The Foggy Dew’ is the most famous song about the Easter Rising of 1916 and this year is of course the 100th anniversary of the rising where a small band of Irishman rose up to take on the British empire. The Rising was smashed and the leaders executed but it ignited a spark that just three years later would see the entire Irish nation rise up to take up the fight for freedom. This soon morphs into ‘Come out Ye’ and if ever their was a trad song that was suited to celtic-punk then this is it. Fast as feck and with a brilliant chorus that is impossible to sing without your fist waving in the air. They return to be standard fare next with a live version of ‘The Wild Rover’ recorded last Christmas in McCleary’s Public House in Lancaster. John’s vocals sound great and its lovely and clear and leads us nicely onto the album’s final track ‘The Mermaid Song’. The band get together and give it their all in a acapella style.
So much to recommend here but also a couple of things I would like to add. With such an amazing piper I would have liked to hear a lot more of them also you’re a fantastic band so you shouldn’t be afraid to give your own material a chance. Overall a fantastic album only seven tracks listed and clocking in at just under 25 minutes they have certainly captured the energy and passion of a live set here. A fantastic bunch of talented musicians with a knowledge of the history of both Irish music and culture The Ogham Stones have nailed their own sound and with a few more of their own songs have got the ability to get into the top tier of the celtic punk scene.
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- For more on the history of The Ogham Stones and the ancient alphabet visit here.