One of the best things about doing this here blog-zine is the end of year ‘Best Of’s’. This is our chance to reward, for what it’s worth, and recommend those releases that tickled our collective fancies over the last twelve months. Where as in 2013 the Best Of’s were dominated by local bands and releases and in 2014 it was international bands that stole the show this years is more of a mix of the two. No shocks at the top I’m afraid. It was always going to be a slug out between the big hitters of celtic-punk with The Rumjacks just shading it from the The Mahones by the slightest of margins. One of the team commented that the only difference was that ‘The Hunger And The Fight Part 1’ was slightly better than Part 2. In third place came 1916 out of New York who only just sneaked in with the December release of ‘Last Call For Heroes’. The album came out so late we didn’t even get a chance to mention it let alone review it nevertheless it blew us all away with their brilliant combination of rockabilly and celtic-punk. Another one to file in the ‘shamrockabilly’ category. Overall no major surprises and all four admins lists pretty much tallied up with each other but it’s especially great to see some non-English speaking bands in there as well as some bands that were new to us in the last twelve months. I was particularly happy to see Skontra and The Cundeez make the grade representing celtic-punk as played in the celtic nations. 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. If your album is not here do not be downhearted. These twenty album’s are the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year in what was an outstanding year for celtic-punk. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
Now onto the EP’s. These are classed as shorter usually four to six songs long and around anything right up to 15-20 minutes long. No shock here at number one as a unanimous vote saw this years new band of the year Mick O’Toole walk away with the title. They have been a solid fixture during the year building up quite a reputation and following. At number two it’s long been a well known secret that Indonesia is a hotbed of celtic-punk and Dirty Glass are one of the best bands in their flourishing scene and ‘Drunken Summer Nights’ ran O’Toole very close while another English band came in third. Matilda’s Scoundrels really hit the heights in 2015 and just like Mick O’Toole bigger and better things await them in 2016. The rest of the list is made up from bands from across the globe with Slovenia, South Africa, Hungary, Catalonia, Russia, Holland, France and Yorkshire all making the list.
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 each of them all to bits. If you like celtic-punk then you should not be afraid to give traditional folk a listen. Most of it is more punk than punk these days you know. It’s a direct link to the music that inspired celtic punk music and their are some amazing bands and performers out there. Hard to decide which order they should go in especially as O’Hanlons Horsebox could have just as easily won this years Best Celtic Punk Album as well! This is how the Top Ten ended up.
1. O’HANLONS HORSEBOX- ‘Songs And Stories From The Border’ (here)
8. JOHNNY CAMPBELL- ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ (here)
9. FFR CELTIC FIESTA- ‘Fresh Blood’
10. THE PROCLAIMERS- ‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ (here)
11. SKWARDYA- ‘Domhwelyans/ Revolution’
TOP CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE
Again Waldo over at Celtic Folk Punk And More walks away with this award. There is simply no better site on the internet. Everything you would possibly need to know is here with a HUGE range of bands covered and there is no doubt in my mind that the site you are reading here now would not exist without the inspiration of Celtic Folk Punk And More. Sadly Waldo published a post on January 3rd titled ‘New Year, New Life’ (here) announcing the suspension of the site for a while. We wish Waldo well and look forward to his, and his fantastic web site’s, return.
* The lists were compiled from the scraps of crumpled paper, and one beermat, handed to me by the other three admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and tallied up over several pints of beer in a seedy working man’s Irish boozer in north London.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
all the major players in celtic-punk do Best Of lists so click below to check out what they thought
This year has been quite brilliant for celtic-punk releases, and they haven’t all been Hungarian either, but sadly we haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 1 of our 2015 Round Up where we catch up with all the bands we missed first time round. This time two American and three Canadian bands.
The debut release from this seven piece celtic-punk band, and devotees of Ice Hockey, from Ontario in Canada. This seven track, half an hour long mini album came out in May and is typical of a lot of Canadian celtic-punk. A strong working class ethos runs through the lyrics while the music is fast and furious and hard to compare. They certainly know what they are doing and there are plenty twists and turns on this album with instruments like cello appearing. The music veers from straight up celtic-punk to Tom Waits style ‘pissed-up’ ballads to even a sort of psychobilly number. All the tracks are quite lengthy and despite that don’t outlive their welcome due to the speed at which they are played. Stand out track is probably ‘Slappywags’ where the fiddle holds court in a song about the Bastards favourite boozer. Just a bunch of beer swillin’, foot stompin’, mosh pittin’ Canadians.
Another cracking Canadian band who play a similar style of celtic punk to the Bay Street Bastards but mainly concentrate on thrashing out some brilliant fast as hell punk rock. They have toured over here a couple of times and even played the prestigious trade union music Tolpuddle Martyrs festival last year. Catchy hooks galore and some proper toe tappers and mosh pit favourites but The Stanfields can give it the celtic treatment too and the album’s influences are plenty. So much more to this band than just thrashing out. Again that working class ethic beats strong in their hearts and dominates what they do. Only eight songs but over half an hour and a couple of real epics here too. ‘Fight Song’ stands out especially and the band chose it, quite rightly, to be the first single from the album.
The album ends with ‘Will The Circuit Be Unbroken’ that takes through a trawl of pretty much every style of music that The Stanfields have in their arsenal. A great album and we look forward to seeing them back in London again though hopefully this time with a better promoter!
Hailing out of Michigan these Irish-American lads have a stack of releases behind them and I intend to get round to hearing the lot of them so impressed I was with this album. Released in September with twelve tracks and over forty minutes of music The Waxies keep it acoustic but they also keep it loud and in fitting with the way they describe themselves- Irish Gypsy Punk. The music though firmly with both feet in Irish music does take in influences from the sea as you will see from the album cover. Catchy as hell once again and with great vocals and lyrics. The lyrics are all included on the Bandcamp page by the way and theres a poignant song in tribute to fellow Irish-American musician and Grand Rapids resident Nate Carey who passed away last year. Only two covers and The Waxies have a real feel for their community with plenty here for anyone who is proud of their Irish roots but they also can play and the instrumental ‘The Silver Spear’ shows that they can play a pretty fantastic reel as well. Another cracking album and I know there’s some ‘electric’ bands out there that wish they could kick up a storm like the The Waxies! The album ends with a good a version of ‘The Parting Glass’ as I have ever heard… seriously.
Formed in 1999 Seamus Stout have been around a good while and have built up a healthy following around their home state of Texas playing their local hostelries with a grand assortment of irish and Scottish classics. Of course they don’t confine themselves to covers and with five previous full length albums under their belts they sure do have a healthy amount of songs to choose from. Musically its straight up celtic music well played and with a shitload of gusto. Again its purely acoustic but kicking up a real racket. ‘For Your Purchasing Pleasure’ is a live album that has a perfect production that ensures all the instruments are clear as a bell and the vocals come out nice and strong too. Sixteen songs officially squeezed onto this CD but its actually a load more as they play some pretty damn good reels as well. There’s a whole host of instruments at play here giving the impression that this four piece band is more akin to a troope so busy are they. Can’t find a link for this album but you can find Seamus Stout’s previous releases here and here.
Here’s another Canadian band to end our North American round up. The Shillelaghs hail from Calgary in Alberta and despite being founded in 2005 ‘Bury Me At Sea’ is the bands first release and even though its been a long time coming its certainly been worth the wait. Twelve tracks and 3/4’s of an hour long and only one cover means The Shillelaghs sound is stamped all over ‘Bury Me At Sea’. Fiercely independent the music is fast, well played and mostly acoustic with raspy vocals and tales of the sea, drinking and other dark themes. Our comrades over at Celtic Folk Punk & Morenoticed that the singer sounds like an angrier Mark Chadwick from The Levellers and by George that’s amazingly accurate. There’s quite a Poguesy sound going on here but the electric guitar steers it just away while also keeping it firmly in celtic-punk country. Album opener ‘Shillelagh Justice’ lets you know exactly where the album is going but there’s some real suprises here with the beautiful ballad ‘Dark The Days’ with dual male/female vocals and the closing number the acoustic ‘Better To Bleed’ which begins with just Dave’s voice and acoustic guitar before the band join in. It is though the heavier numbers I prefer and it’s the title track that grabs you by the throat and rocks your socks off. If you like this song then you simply MUST get this album!
So ends Part 1 and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but just not possible with time on our backs. Anyhow more to come in Part 2 so check back in a few days and catch up with some European releases. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.