Russian beer-core legends have been around for over 20 years and as strong as ever giving us fast HC influenced celtic-punk with beer, pirates and a Russian mentality!
One of the highlights of the last few years has been the emergence of Russia as a celtic-punk powerhouse within the scene. Middle Class Bastards have blown us away with everything they have done (here) and the recent Tribute To The Pogues compilation album (here) showcased exactly what Russia and some of the other neighbouring ex-Soviet Union countries have to offer. From beginning to end it was simply magnificent and is still available as a free download. One of the common themes is that most celtic-punk bands veer a line that takes in The Dubliners, The Clash and The Pogues while a lot of the Russian /eastern Europe bands take a different route that includes Scots rather than Irish folk music and hardcore punk like UK82 bands like The Exploited or GBH.
The Pauki (left to right): Miguel Deviakovich – guitar, back voc * Boris Britva – guitar, back voc * Sasha Tankovich – vocal, flute * Alexey Kozlovskiy – bagpipe, back voc * Vetal “Basillo” Baranoff – bass, back voc * Ivan Laptev – drums
With all the songs sung in Russian its not going to be easy to do a review but will try my best and at least introduce you to a band that deserves to be heard across the world. The Pauki (translates as the much less interesting The Spiders) hail from Russia’s second-largest city after Moscow, St Petersburg. It is said to be the most westernized city of Russia, as well as its cultural capital so all forms of music are popular there and to that we can now add our own as well. The Pauki began playing in September 1991 so are one of the longest running celtic punk bands in existence, let alone Russia, so its about time they had a bit of coverage outside their own country.
Their seems a very clear sea-faring theme throughout the album with the opening track ‘Мы Никто’ beginning with the sound of the ocean before bagpipes wail in followed by electric guitars and you may think its heading into celtic-rock territory but then a thundering bass and all of a sudden the song takes off with the band all singing along before Sasha’s main vocals kick in and wrap around the song perfectly. Comparisons to Middle Class Bastards can’t be helped but hey they are fecking brilliant so whats it matter. ‘Doomsday’ is straight up punk and stands up well for it while the bagpipes are back for ‘Маски’ a really catchy tune and one of the album highlights. ‘Живой’ is an old song re-recorded and is fast as hell with Exploited style rapid drumming driving it along. Another catchy as hell one in ‘Поганый Drug’ follows and again is straight up bagpipe punk. Another re-recorded song next in ‘Я Вижу’ and the bagpipes are loud and proud. Expertly played and clear as day in the excellent mix. ‘Морская Задорная’ has the flute leading and easily makes the song the most ‘traditional’ celtic-punk song on the album with a famous Irish ‘air’ dotted throughout the song. The gang vocals are a great touch and nowhere better than on ‘Die Die’. ‘Тортуга Ждёт’ begins as a sea shanty before the chugging guitar and pipes and more gang vocals join in. Another top song on this album. We are nearing the end and having listened a lot to this in the car with the sound right up and the window down ‘Куда Девался Рай?’ came as a right shock. Shouty vocals and acoustic instruments and a sort of calypso thing going on. Still great just unusual! Well if that was a shock then ‘Kivema (12345 Remix)’ nearly made me hit a tree! Bloody techno I tells you. I’m not a fan as you can probably imagine but as its stuck on the end as a bit of a piss take then I can except it. A dance beat over the band shouting away with the occasional burst of guitar its certainly a novel way to end a celtic-punk album!
The title of the album is Isla de Muerta, in English ‘Island of the Dead’. Famous now for being the famed mysterious phantom isle in the Caribbean Jack Sparrow wanted to find in Pirates Of The Caribbean. No map marked the way so the treasure of Hernán Cortés remains to be found by whatever buccaneer or adventurer would like to claim it. Super happy I came across this album. Like most of you out there I’m coming into celtic-punk with a love of both folk And punk so sometimes I love to hear something with a bit harder tougher edge and I certainly got that from The Pauki.
Eleven tracks, all written by the band, that comes in at thirty four minutes with a couple of re-recorded old songs and that techno mix! The Pauki take the bagpipe punk of bands like the Real McKenzies and take it to the next level. The added elements of Russian and hardcore punk definitely give them something extra and mark The Pauki as a band to follow. I really loved this album and goes to show that you can have a bit too much folk in your life sometimes.
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Tribute album to the worlds most famous and popular Celtic-Punk band The Dropkick Murphys. Recorded by the best Celtic, Punk, Hardcore and Oi! bands from Russia and Ukraine!
Hot on the heels of our recent review of the Russian band Middle Class Bastards new EP we return to the former Soviet Union for this compilation album from bands from Russia and Ukraine. Vladimir began work on the album back in the autumn of 2012 with over forty bands scheduled to appear. Well fast forward a couple of years and the list has been whittled down to eighteen bands with all but one from Russia and one band from Ukraine- our old favourites O’Hamsters from Ukraine. Unfortunately Бостонское Чаепитие (in English Boston Tea Party) the only celtic/pirate punk band in Belarus had to drop out of the project.
As you would expect the album is dominated by celtic punk bands and several of these deserve to be internationally famous but other musical styles are represented too giving the album a real feel of what’s currently going on in the Russian/Eastern music scene.
The whole album is 18 tracks that runs for over fifty minutes and moves along at a rare old pace. The opening track is ‘Walk Away’ by Zuname one of the best and original celtic punk bands out of Moscow. The starting point is that these are brilliant songs to cover and most celtic-punk bands will have included one or two DKM’s songs in their live sets at some point so the songs are all pretty well recorded and played. Zuname do a great job but is a shame that for a band with a piper they didn’t choose a song with pipes. Nevertheless a great opening. Assholes Syndicate next with ‘The Boys Are Back’. They hail from the same town in northern Russia as Middle Class Bastards and run through the song in a straight forward punk rock style. Not just yer standard cover the Assholes add plenty in and make the song their own. Great guitar work. Думай Сам up next with ‘Sunshine Highway’ and though its not one of the DKM’s strongest songs they give it a good shot. Next up is one of our favourites O’Hamsters from Kiev in the Ukraine. The lads have appeared on these pages before and if there was an award for the best record sleeves then these lot would be a whole lot bigger than The Dropkick Murphys! They pick ‘The Dirty Glass’ and top marks for singing in their native language and as expected they knock it right out of the park. Featuring guest vocals from Maria Naumenko. Only six of the bands on the album sing in their own languages which is a shame but completely understandable really. Just wish it didn’t have to be and people were a bit more adventurous. FatalYear play ‘Noble’ and also sing in Russian and do a great job of one of my own DKM favourites. Following is one my current scene favourites Middle Class Bastards playing ‘Your Spirit’s Alive’ and as I thought they play the bejaysus out of it. Mandolin and pipes kick the arse out of the song turning into a ska song halfway through with the brilliant inclusion of a trumpet before returning to celtic punk again. A classic! Track seven is from Kids Of The Street with ‘Road Of The Righteous’ with the early DKM Oi!/streetpunk classic. The vocals are a bit muffled otherwise a pretty decent job though the song inexplicably fades away far too early. Drunken Fairy Tales play ‘Boys On The Dock’ and they are one of the better known celtic punk bands outside Russia. From Moscow they deserve that recognition and plough through their song with gusto. Riot Radio play a melodic hardcore version of ‘The Thick Skin Of Defiance’. The accordion is well to the fore in St Petersburgs The Beerocephals version of ‘The Hardest Mile’. No matter how hard they try thrashing guitars can’t play louder than a well played accordion! One of the albums standouts is the Citramons ‘Never Alone’. Great guitar work and shouty dual vocals mark this band from Kalingrad out. Another band who were pioneers of the scene in Russia are another St Petersburg band The Пауки (in english The Spiders) who run through ‘The Gauntlet’ without missing a beat though one quibble is the celtic instruments needed to be turned up a bit in the mix. Patronage get through ‘Barroom Hero’ and play it as if The Toy Dolls were covering it. Great stuff. TWIF up next and sail through ‘Boston Asphalt’ in a straightforward fast as hell punk rock style. Another band from Novribosibirsk is Беz Фанатиzма (in english Without Fanaticism) with a speeded up version of ‘Pipebomb on Lansdowne’ the DKM’s would love to be able to play this fast if they could keep up. Real Shamrocks have a fiddle led version of ‘Hang Em High’ and again the celtic instruments are a bit low in the mix at times but that doesn’t detract from the song that much as its another album standout track. City Stones do ‘World Full Of Hate’ as its original except in Russian. Квэкс get the pleasure of doing the Dropkicks most famous song ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’. Played to death throughout the world at sporting events it never loses its appeal and the boys do it great justice with what sounds like two pipes bring this album to a close in great style.
Middle Class Bastards
Well there you have it. A must have for any Dropkick Murphys fans. Its available for ‘Pay What You Want’ on Bandcamp but first you can grab a listen to it below anyway. We have tried to link to all the bands but its been hard so click on the red band name and hopefully it will take you to somewhere you can find out more information. As with all compilation albums its gonna be a hit and miss affair for most people with not all the tracks bound to move you but theres enough corkers here for you to give a go. Vladimir deserves a real pat on the back for this labour of love and it deserves to be heard. The scene in the ex-Soviet Union is small but growing and there’s some amazing bands so as usual I end with a plea to leave your comfort zone and check out some of these great bands.
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Middle Class Bastards O’Hamsters
Russian nuclear cooked mixture of Scotch whiskey, Irish temperament, celtic, folk and old school punk rock!
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Middle Class Bastards are for certain one of the most original bands in the celtic-punk scene at the moment and it will also not suprise me one bit that you’ll have never heard of them either. Tucked away in northern Russian in a city, Arkhangelsk, that streteches for over 25 miles along the northern Dvina river in an area that is most famous for its story telling and its folklore. The internet claims thats its a ‘dead art’ but we’ve heard that too many times to start believing it. Maybe this old artform is actually as dead as the thriving celtic languages of Cornish or Manx!
Middle Class Bastards were formed way back in 2006 by a group of mates who wanted to start playing good old fashioned punk rock. Many have passed through the band for them to end up where they are now. For most of the current line up the band was their first band but since then some of them have also side-projects mostly punk but Alexander and Dmitry play in a Russian traditional folk-punk band (I want to hear them as well please!) and MacGregor the bands piper also plays in a medieval metal folk band. So the band are doing their bit you could say to not only spread the celtic but also to keep alive their local traditions.
Middle Class Bastards
Left to right: Roman – mandolin, Denis – bass, Alexander – guitar, McGregor – bagpipe, Vitaliy – drums, Dmitry – trumpet, Andrew – vocal, Kirill – naked balls!
Now onto the music. Way back at the start of this review I called Middle Class Bastards “one of the most original bands in the celtic-punk scene” so heres to explain why. Recently we have covered a lot of purely folk music. Not been intended its just what I been listening to. Then I came across this and fecking hell its blows any folk cob-webs away. Most celtic-punk bands sound like any combination of The Clash,The Dubliners and The Pogues but these guys take after a much better era of punk and play what use to be called UK82 style punk rock, most famously played by Scots rockers The Exploited. The music started as a working class subculture right across the estates of Britain. Punk before this was the preserve of the public schoolboy and its pretensions were obvious to all. UK82 shook the music scene. Its not easy listening but I grew up on this stuff so I love it to bits. Middle Class Bastards take UK82 and the anger and angression and infuse it with the spirit of the celtic nations. MacGregor the piper is proud to be actually descended from a Scottish regiment’s warrior who arrived in Arkhangelsk in the years of the Russian Civil War 1918-1920. I guess that makes them a celtic celtic-punk band dont you think?
first album from 2013
‘Russian By Birth, Celtic By Heart’
Anyroad 0n with the music and the five track EP starts with ‘Putin In The Charts Again’ and the classic UK82 guitar sound kicks it off but then the mandolin and pipes join and when Andrew starts his tirade against Putin you’re certainly in celtic-punk territory but not sure how many of you will be able to hack it here with me! The Rancid style vocals fit perfectly and even though they sing in English its delivered immaculately and its easily understood despite the speed they’re playing at. A trumpet only adds to the enjoyment and ‘Rebel To The Core’ that follows is a bit more of a traditional punk rock song sounding a bit more American than the rest of the EP. Starting with a snippet from One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest the mandolin dominates the sound though and i have to say that the EP is mixed perfectly with all the instruments as clear as a bell. ‘Cop Land’ is yer classic anti-cop song and as we know the Russian police take no prisoners so we can’t blame the boys for taking this opportunity to get one back on them. The EP’s standout track it really showcases all the strands of the band coming together perfectly from the great vocals and catchy lyrics to superb mando and piping and the trumpet adding that extra bit of originality too but the rest of the band contribute greatly. The other great enemy in Russia is swiftly up next and ‘Politicunts (Deserve The Boot)’ is yet another beauty with McGregor’s piping out front while Andrew puts the boot in! ‘Boston Hospitality’ is more of the same and is an ode to Boston and its Irish roots. Catchy as hell and a great singalong chorus bring this fecking brilliant EP to a close.
There are a few other notable bands in Russia flying the celtic-punk flag, most famous are Zuname and Drunken Fairytales from Moscow and The Pauki and Garlic Kings from St.Petersburg. Middle Class Bastards live too far away to have played with them so having grown up on their own they have developed sound all of their own so unusually for me in one of my reviews I haven’t been able to compare them to anyone. Its great fun and boy I bet their something else to catch live. This band deserves your support so help them out any way you can. You can start by downloading for free this EP. Link is at the bottom of the page. I just got their debut album from last year with the great title ‘Russian By Nature, Celtic By Heart’ and after a couple of plays its already grown on me! A superb band that maybe wont appeal to any one of a folk nature but take a chance on them anyway and why not. Celtic-punk is all about taking those traditional tunes and instruments and attitudes and taking them to new places and these bhoys from the cold north of Russia have certainly done that.
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on the Russian version of facebook VK.com or their brand new (as of yesterday!) facebook page here
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