So hopefully by now you will have equipped yourselves with at least three bands from the Hungarian Celtic Punk scene over the last few days so what better excuse than to give you a Top Ten of the best bands in that wonderful scene. They range from traditional Irish to folk-rock to full on punk but each band contributes to the scene without copying another and that is what makes the Celtic-Punk scene in Hungary so great. Some of the bands have overlap of members and it’s even possible by now that some have disbanded but these are the bands that have given Hungary such a great reputation among the worlds Celtic-Punks! Feast your ears on these lot!
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
STOP-PRESS in the following weeks after we published this article yet another Hungarian Celtic-Punk band appeared on the horizon so we thought we would add them in at the end here. So here’s one more. The more’s the merrier!
It’s been five minutes so must be time for another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk release from another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk band!
2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band with a seemingly never ending succession of celtic-punk releases throughout the year that filled the end of year Best Of polls for not just ourselves but for all the other celtic-punk media. Well last year was a bit on the quiet side but the Hungarians are back in 2017 with a bang and already this year we have had Hungarian Celtic-Punk week when we reviewed three releases by bands old and new to the scene in Firkin, Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills plus as well as finding space for the excellent Jolly Jackers album and a new Paddy And The Rats release due any day soon its shaping up to be a repeat of two years back. The Scarlet’s singer/songwriter Dániel also plays in The O’Neills and while they are a much more traditional Irish folk band it seems he has chosen The Scarlet to take out his aggression on and their music has a much harder edge to it than previously. Which brings us to this release which came out in March (when else!) and is the debut long player from Budapest based band The Scarlet. They have previously released a Demo (available for free download from here) in late 2012 and in January, 2015 they released their first official record in Midnight Avenue. That was six tracks and twenty minutes of, mostly Dropkick Murphys style, quality celtic-punk that introduced them both to the celtic-punk scene and the world (here). A combination of pirate ‘Yo-Ho’s’ and metal guitar riffs accompanying the celtic instruments it left us itching to hear more and we were jumping for joy on the news that an album was coming out.
Now as is the case with music genre’s many overlap and while to the casual listener it may all sound the same but to those that like to label things this is probably more towards the pirate punk end of celtic-punk and maybe even celtic-metal as well.
The album kicks off with ‘Heroes of Our Future’ and even though it’s the shortest song on the album it’s still one of the high points. The Hungarians love the flute and The Scarlet are no different with Júlia’s flute competing with fiddle and metally punk electric guitar riffs. Dániel’s vocals as on that earlier EP are clear and even with his slight accent the English lyrics are easy to understand though sung in a more rock style than before.
The music has a urgent feel to it and ‘The Darker Shade of Red’ doesn’t let the pace slip while the sea theme continues with ‘We Plunder’. The heavy guitar and thundering bass, which sounds particularly good, give the song a hard feel but all the time the flute and fiddle keep it celtic. ‘Monday Morning’ is another album standout and one of the more ‘trad’ celtic-punk moments on the album. Gang vocals on the track are a nice touch and keep it interesting. We are halfway through Hardfolk Shanties and ‘Son of a Pirate’ keeps the pace up. I am a new convert to the use of flute in celtic-punk. I was never one for it but on seeing the mighty Firkin here in London on NYE 2015 I have to say I was totally won over. The Scarlet and Firkin share a lot of similarities except in sound and once again it’s pleasing that bands have managed to tread separate paths in a, sometimes, one dimensional scene.
Saying that if there was one song on the album that has a Firkin shadow looming over it then it is ‘Take the Wheel’. In a album of high points it’s not hard hard to pick out songs worthy of attention and ‘Heading to South’ is one. Great fiddle work and chugging guitar and a real catchy tune too. We coming up to the end of the album and ‘Battlefield Requiem’ keeps up the good work and another mention here for Dániel’s tortured vocals which fit perfectly with the sound the band are producing. ‘Runaway’ has a punk feel to it with that thundering bass back again and finally Hardfolk Shanties comes to an end with ‘Long Live the Dead’. The song begins folky acoustic style before moving into celtic-punk territory. Another class song and that The Scarlet can pack so much into their songs when the longest here is only just over three minutes long is remarkable.
So the album is over and you get ten songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at literally just over half an hour long. If you like your celtic-punk a bit different then Hardfolk Shanties will be right up your street. More punk than most and with metal influences that keep it on the harder side side of things but thanks to the addictive flute and fiddle here it is firmly within the celtic-punk scene. Fiddler Dominika can be thanked for the superb pirate themed album artwork and the album was mixed by Zoltán Cs.Szabó, of the Hungarian garage rock band The Trousers, who has done a grand job and got the maximum out of The Scarlet. A great album and as already stated it sits proudly on the harder edged side of things but it is nevertheless still a fine concoction of both old time folk and more modern punk and metal. Heartily recommended ship mates!
(you can hear Hardfolk Shanties by pressing play on the Soundcloud player below)
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.
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 herewhere 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?)
So welcome to you to our third and final part of Hungarian Celtic Punk Week. After two fantastic celtic-punk bands in The Crazy Rogues and Firkin we calm it down a little with The O’Neills and their debut EP. We can be quite parochial in celtic-punk sometimes and tend to stick to bands we know or have heard of but there’s an absolute wealth of music out there begging to be heard and some of it may be from countries you wouldn’t expect. If the only thing this blog does is gain some of these bands a tiny bit of recognition then we are succeeding in what we set out to do. Leave your misconceptions at the door and take off your pub shoes and dip your toes into the celtic-punk scene worldwide and what better place to start off in than Hungary!
The O’Neills formed in April, 2013 and hail from the Hungarian capital city of Budapest. Where as the first two bands we featured this week both play celtic-punk that sees the folk and punk in equal measures The O’Neills are much more of a Irish folk band in the traditional sense. Formed for a one off occasion The O’Neills success led them to be asked to perform on the Irish Stage of the Sziget Festival some months later. The huge impact gave the five-piece group the bit of push they needed to become th regular session band playing traditional acoustic Irish music at Jack Doyle’s Irish Pub. After two years, they tried different pubs and bars in the inner city of Budapest, changing their gigs to an unique show each time. By January 2017 it had led them to become one of the most sought after bands in Budapest and they recorded this debut EP at the Artist Factory studio. As its title they chose ‘Chapter One’ with the band planning to release subsequent chapters annually. Here we get as Chapter One three songs of excellently played music that perfectly evokes the spirit of Ireland.
The EP begins with the Irish rebel song ‘Down By The Glenside’ and is beautifully sung by Krisztina. One of the best known and also saddest of the Irish folk song repertoire it dates back to the time of the 1916 Easter Rising. Written by Peadar Kearney, an Irish Republican and composer who also wrote numerous other rebel songs, including ‘The Soldier’s Song’ (‘Amhrán na bhFiann‘), which would go on to become the Irish National Anthem. Kearney was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, popularly known as the Feniansand the song stands as a call to arms for a generation of Irish people who were used to only political nationalism.
“Some died by the glenside, some died mid the stranger
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure
But they stood by old Ireland and never feared danger
Glory o glory o to the Bold Fenian Men”
The O’Neills version starts slow and maudlin. Just as it should be before speeding up with military style drumming and tin whistle. Never in a thousand years would you guess that this wasn’t an Irish band! The EP dips into more poppy territory with ‘Avicii’ next. The song is a mash-up of three of the house DJ Avicii’s three biggest hits done in a folk style. Again Krisztina’s voice is prominent, and why not when its this good, with the bands instruments wrapped around it. The song is mid-paced and is a catchy as hell foot tapper. Later on Dániel joins in on vocals and is the perfect foil for Krisztina.
“One day my father—he told me,
“Son, don’t let it slip away”
He took me in his arms, I heard him say,
“When you get older
Your wild life will live for younger days
Think of me if ever you’re afraid.”
He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember”
The EP ends with ‘Country Medley’ and is exactly what it says on the bottle. A compilation of Irished up excerpts of country (ish) classics. Daniel leads the bands on vocals with what must be a sure fire live favourite proving that these Bhoys and Ghirls can certainly play their instruments.
The O’Neills from left to right: Tamás Kaposvári- Cello * Dániel Fekete-Szűcs- Acoustic Guitar, Vocals * Krisztina Hajdu- Vocals * Sophia Lajgút- Fiddle * Júlia Seres- Flutes
All over and done and dusted in just over ten minutes its a great first chapter and though it may not appeal to all celtic punk fans I’m sure there’s plenty out there willing to give a band from the more folkier side of things a chance.
( you can hear the whole of Chapter One below on You Tube)
So all in all a very impressive start for our Hungarian celtic-punk week. Check back in a couple of days for part two of three. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and if you got any sense you better be) the best place to find it is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here