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2016 REVIEWS ROUND-UP PART TWO. KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK, MICK FLANNERY, ACROSS THE BORDER, TENHOLES, THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY, KING OF THE TRAVELLERS

Every year we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 2 of our 2016 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2016 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. Last week we featured releases from the America’s (here) so this time we will try to fit in the entire rest of the world taking in Ireland, Indonesia, Germany, France and good auld Australia!

KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK- ‘Tournée Générale!’ EP  (Bandcamp)

korrigansThere is quite a strong and vibrant celtic-punk scene happening in France at the moment and by France I mean France and not Brittany which as you should know is a completely different country! One of these bands are Korrigan’s Celtic Rock who were formed in 2007 in Franche-Comté in eastern France and released their debut EP, Tournée Générale!, earlier this year. They take their name from the mythical creatures who were opposed to Christianity when the Apostles came to convert Brittany. The EP kicks off with a rocking start with tin whistle that AC/DC would be proud of. Next up is ‘Hypocrisie’ with more of a ska beat and the bombarde is introduced. I love the sound of this instrument and will be familiar to fans of the Breton legends Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. They add bagpipes too into ‘Putain De…’  and this is my favourite track of the EP. The title track ends the EP and is straight up celtic-punk rock. A quarter of a hour well spent. These guys cover all the angles and we are destined to hear much more from them in 2017.

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MICK FLANNERY- ‘I Own You’ LP (iTunes  TowerRecords)

mick-flannery-2016Mick Flannery comes from county Cork in the south of Ireland and funnily enough the artist he reminds me of the most is also from Cork, Cathal Coughlan of the excellent Microdisney/Fatima Mansions. This is Mick’s fifth album and the first I’ve heard properly. There may not be much here for the traditional celtic-punk fan except that if you love good music then you will also love this. From what I have read this album is much darker than his previous releases and the excellent Tom Wait-esque title track is based on the idea of class inequality and told as a poor man breaking into a rich man’s house. Dark and foreboding and downright bloody brilliant!

Thought you heard something on the way home, was that a rustle, was that my belly rumblin?”

Elements of rap and dance music alongside the dark folk and even darker pop here and the songwriting is compelling and worthy of hearing just on it’s own. On ‘Cameo’ Mick’s famous introspection comes out.

But if I’m so happy/ why do I lie awake at night?/ Why am I angry all the time?”

Though often found with an electric guitar its still very much based on folk melodies and the comparison to Bob Dylan and his change to electric guitar himself is not so odd.

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ACROSS THE BORDER- ‘Calling 999’ EP  (Bandcamp)
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Formed in Remchingen in the South of Germany not far from the French border Calling 999 is their first release since they reformed having split up back in 2012 having been together since 1991! It sure is good to have them back as on the basis of this EP they right are back on form. With a stack of LP’s and EP’s behind them this stands up there with the best of them. A mainly accordion led band, very popular in their home country, this EP begins with the title track and its catchy punk folk throughout with distinctive vocals from Jochen with the lyrics sung in English. ‘Rob, The Man’ is a hilarious romp showing a good sense of humour with a good auld Irish twist with plenty of fiddle this time. The EP ends with the sad but lovely ‘Sometimes’ and your nine minutes is up with a real Tom Waits-esque bar-room ballad accompanied with piano and accordion. This is the song it would be worth getting your lighter out for! A great release but far too short. We want more!
TENHOLES- ‘Loyalty’  (Juno)
tenholesFormed in 2004 in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Tenholes are a working class Oi! band with celtic music influences. Loyalty is their second album and their best yet. ten songs and thirty-five minutes of punk rock’n’roll from the streets that reminds me of those first couple of Flatfoot 56 albums for energy. An absolute stunner of an album. Great production and comes bursting out the speakers at you from Track One. We have featured Indonesian bands several times before when we reviewed Dirty Glass (here), the great Indonesian celtic-punk compilation Wind From The Foreign Land (here) and the review of The Cloves And The Tobacco last album (here) so go there to find out more about this fantastic scene. So much to recommend here but for certain if you favour the Dropkicks/Flatfoot then this album is for you. I give you a guarantee you WILL love it! You can hear plenty of music at their Facebook page under the Band Profile tab including some songs from Loyalty. Anthems for the working class with stories of urban life, stories about them and us!

KING OF THE TRAVELLERS- ‘Pros & Cons’  (Soundcloud)
king-of-the-travellers-2The third release from Fremantle seven-piece King of the Travellers. Blending elements of folk, punk, ska and gypsy music to create a hoe-down of epic proportions! With instruments as diverse as the French horn and clarinet they are not your run-of-the-mill folk punk band but there experimentation does remind me of fellow Aussies the Dead Maggies even if their music aint too similar. With a reputation as a raucous live music act how well did they manage to transfer their sound to disc? Well the answer is pretty damn well. First track ‘Another Day’ has brass and a catchy ska-ish beat to it and kicks off these six songs in style. They speed it up for ‘Travel Away’ and then slow it down for ‘First Thought’ and again its all catchy as hell with the many instruments blending very well together thanks to the spotless production. Gypsy/Eastern Europe flavours the next song ‘Curly’ and on ‘Trenches’ the mando is back in charge for this anti-war song which sounds to me like something Stiff Records may have come out back in the day.

The EP comes to an end with ‘Curly Reprise’ which is of course the earlier track ‘Curly’ slowed down but with extra flourish. The clarinet works surprisingly well and could maybe have done with popping up a bit more often. Overall a solid EP. Not a weak song here just catchy punky folk music with a stack of influences from all over the place and spat back out by a bunch of Aussie’s. Now that is recommendation enough surely!
THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- ‘Whitewashed Graves’ (Bandcamp)
ramshackleAnd our final review of 2016 is also one of the best we reviewed and no surprises that it’s another Australian release! Just released earlier this month this is the first new record from The Ramshackle Army since the beginning of 2014 but they have certainly been busy if not recording then touring right across the globe! The band began in the pubs and bars of their home town Melbourne but The Ramshackle Army have gone on to become one of the leading lights in the Australian celtic-punk scene and in a scene that is chock-a-block with great bands then that ought to be recommendation enough. Hampered by line up changes they have now got a settled team so lets hope it leads to a new album soon. Here we get six songs and just under twenty minutes of high tempo, catchy as feck traditional celtic-punk. The standout track gotta be the single ‘Foreign Soil’ but it could easily have been any of them such is the quality of this fine EP.
“Imprisoned by our plight and desperate acts faith,
They enter battles in our name and battle cry our pain,
Just keep me sane and welcome my escape”
All the songs are self penned and its an absolute stunning return to the scene from one of the best bands in it. Heavily influenced by the story-telling style of the Aussie folk/celtic-punk tradition that bursts with  the live energy of an Ramshackle Army live gig. Highly recommended!

So ends Part 2 of our Round-Up’s and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full on London Celtic Punks treatment. Apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. 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.

ALBUM REVIEW: CLEAR THE BATTLE FIELD- ‘Set Me Free’ (2016)

Armagh born multi instrumentalist Dominic Cromie and crew with a modern take on traditional Irish music that has something for bloody everyone!

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When talking about celtic-punk people sometimes think of a narrow genre situated somewhere between the two most famous bands to come out of it, The Pogues and The Dropkick Murphys, but when you also throw in Flogging Molly you begin to have a genre that stretches from traditional Irish folk all the way to hardcore punk. I also tend to think of other such diverse artists as Johnny Cash, Tom Waits and even Social Distortion as being an large influence on what we call celtic-punk today in 2016. Clear The Battlefield are no different. Taking Irish and celtic music and mixing it with all sorts of traditions, some old and some modern, all the while putting their own spin on it.

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Clear The Battlefield’s main instrumentalist, vocalist and lyricist is Dominic Cromie. Born in county Armagh in the north of Ireland he first began playing guitar at the age of ten and by eleven had written his first song. He played his first gig at fourteen with his sister Aine who was by then becoming a well know singer on the Irish show band scene. After touring Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Holland, Dominic left Ireland for the United States in 1991 to pursue his dream as a singer songwriter. Dominic formed Raglan Road, a Celtic rock band and has toured throughout the States performing with many of the nations best Irish-American bands. After these he formed Clear The Battlefield in 2008 and has been gigging solidly since leading up to this their debut album, Set Me Free.

dominic2The album begins, significantly perhaps, with the only cover on the album,’I Roved Out’. A old traditional folk song covered by all the great and the good in Irish musical history. Confusingly there are two versions of ‘I Roved Out’ but this is the one as popularised by Christy Moore telling the rather common tale of a young woman who is seduced by a soldier, only to find that he has abandoned her the next morning. The album kicks off with a sort of dancey backbeat and my first worry is that it is going to be like those awful techno rebel song medleys that get released every now and then and are used to whip up the drunks in nightclubs across the Irish diaspora. I need not have worried though as its not intrusive and (can I hear myself actually saying this) sounds pretty good.

Anyway pretty soon in the Irish instruments take over and expertly played tin whistle comes in and later the glorious sound of uileann pipes.

“With me too-ry-ay Fol-de-diddle-day
Di-rah fol-de-diddle, dai-rie oh”

Next up is ‘The Valley’ and a slow song but with Dominic’s voice bursting with emotion. He is blessed with a voice that sounds like those old crackly records our Grandparents owned but with the modern touches it easily straddles both worlds of old and new. ‘You’ follows and is a nice love song done as alternative sounding country while ‘Mary’ is back to more folkier territory. We are back next with ‘Set Me Free’. The instrument count rises as Dominic and crew rattle through a somewhat tribal tune. At any second we expect it to fly into complete trad but its just reined back enough. Accompanied by a great video that leaves us in no doubt where Dominic’s heart and passion lies.

The album’s longest track is the instrumental ‘The Rights Of Man’ at over six minutes and begins with an instrument we do not hear enough of in celtic punk those uileann pipes. With Black 47 no more and a long long time since Stephen Gara packed his bags for NYC and left London Irish rockers Neck only Italian band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are giving us what we want. More pipes! The following songs follow a similar path in that they start off as just guitar and voice before flying off into something else. ‘Get Up’ benefits from a Irish ending while ‘Go’ returns the album to the unconventional country sound we heard earlier.

We even dip into ‘C86’ sounding indie with ‘Even After The Drugs’ that takes in bands like The La’s or Teenage Fanclub. Finally Set Me Free comes to an end with ‘Days Days Days’ a short blast of upbeat jazzyness that is a way cool way to bring the curtain down.

The ten songs clock in at just under forty minutes and if I had a slight, and I mean slight, criticism with Set Me Free it would be that their is perhaps some unnecessary flourishes that don’t really add much to the music. It’s not your typical celtic-punk and sometimes it feels like the most un-celtic-punk celtic-punk album we have ever reviewed here. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it. The playing here is truly to be marvelled at and regardless of whether it is punk or not will strike a chord with anyone with a love of traditionally played Irish music.

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ALBUM REVIEW: RUSTY NAIL- ‘Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart’ (2016)

If Liam Clancy grew up listening to Nirvana, it would sound like Rusty Nail.

St.Louis based Celtic-infused celtic-rock originals and traditional Irish Pub songs.

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Rusty Nail will be a name new to the vast majority I am sure but with this their new album they deserve a much wider audience and this just may be the one to get them it. Born and bred in the second biggest city of Missouri, St. Louis and when you find out the biggest city in Missouri is Kansas City you begin to realise exactly whereabouts in America you are. Famed through cinema history as the epi-centre of just about any decent cowboy film St Louis was a city founded by the French that transformed into a booming nineteenth-century industrial mecca. Experiencing a massive influx of people beginning in the 1840’s especially from Ireland and also from Germany, in forty years the population grew from 20,000 to 160,00 in 1860. Today the US Census Bureau gives the population of St. Louis as 318,416. Militant societies were formed, and an Irish nationalist rally at the Old Courthouse over 110 years ago filled the place to the rafters. Sadly in recent years the economy of the city has declined and St Louis has the highest percentage loss of residents of any city in the USA losing 62.7% since the 1950 census. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the USA (happily on the decline since 1993) but don’t despair as gentrification has given the business area lots of shiny new buildings for everyone to look at from across the city. Though as usual statistics don’t take into account the heart of a city and St. Louis has plenty of that. The city has also acknowledged their roots with those famine Irish who arrived all that time ago by twinning with both Galway and Donegal and while many of the Catholic churches those Irish built are gone and new residents live where they once lived the Irish community is still vibrant and strong with gaelic games and culture and tradition flourishing. The story of the St. Louis Irish is fascinating and I spent many a late night reading about them for this review. A great place to start is Bob Corbett’s Dogtown Homepage here. Dogtown is the Irish part of St. Louis and the name stems from the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 when poor Irish squatters, living in makeshift shanties in Forest Park, were forced by the fair to move southward to the neighboring hill. As Bob himself says

“When they had to give up their squatters’ rights in the park, many of them moved over here. Most of them had space, so they kept hunting dogs. Quite a few of the people living over here descend from them”

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So out of this imperfect (tell me where is?) city comes the latest in a long line of Irish infused celtic-punk bands. Rusty Nail are a seven piece group formed in the winter of 2005 that plays music inspired by the likes of the ususal suspects of The Pogues, The Tossers and Flogging Molly but also of the Clancy Brothers, The Wolfe Tones and even Tom Waits. Their debut album, Ounce And A Half Of Whiskey, released in 2006 showed a band a long way from today’s incarnation. Played as a straight up four piece acoustic band the album stands up extremely well with its mix of mostly self penned ballads and a few trad covers and all with some surprisingly good country’n’western touches. They followed that up in 2011 with the release of Boozers, Bastards, and Bards. It saw the band move away from the acoustic more folkier music they had been playing. As Rusty Nail co-founder Alvan Caby says

“We always wanted to be a full rock band. So about a year into the band’s run, we added drum, bass and guitar slots to make a bigger sound”

With this ‘full sound’, as they put it, the album brought some great reviews and gained them massive exposure and they very soon became firm favourites among the St Louis Irish community and its friends. The album is again a  collection of mostly self penned tunes about drunks, unsavory characters and Irish poets chucked into a blender and mixed up with traditional folk sounds, rock and punk. The band take their name from an old-timey alcoholic beverage made with Whiskey and Drambuie Liqueur that gives a nod to the past while keeping it modern and helping along the booze-fueled festivity!

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Rusty Nail left to right: Pete McAvity- Electric Guitar * Chris Otto- Tin Whistle, Native American Flute * Dennis Frentzel- Drums * Kelly LaRussa- Violin * Alvan Caby- Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals * Chad Ross- Guitar, Banjo, Dulcimer, Accordion, Bouzouki, EBow, Organ * Mark Hochberg- Bass

So in the 10th anniversary year of the band they have come up trumps again with Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart. The album begins with ‘The Magician’ and fiddle and from the outset sets the tone. You can hear influence from The Tossers here but Rusty Nail are their own band and within the first few bars you can tell this band is something special. Alvan’s lyrics sound like they are ripped straight out from his heart and laid bare for us. He said in a recent interview that

“There’s lots of silly lyrics in our older songs. But for now it’s about the idea of honesty and true-story kind of stuff. I’m a big fan of sad lyrics with happy-sounding music. There are a lot of artists who do a similar sort of thing. It’s about being honest. I don’t know if it will mean as much to the next person as it does to me, but maybe it will. It helps me deal with feelings of failure, feelings of loneliness and feelings of disappointment. But there’s also feelings of love and hope. As dark as the songs get, then there’s still hope”

That thing Alvan said about sad lyrics with happy-sounding music nails the Rusty Nail sound perfectly. ‘Return To The Start’ the next track up gives off an triumphant air with the jolly sound of fiddle and this time the mandolin to the fore but again there’s much more to it.

(not the album version but I like it even more)

Alvan’s voice is not yer perfect croon, that much is true but I very much doubt it could be done any other way and it fits in like no ‘crooner’ ever could. ‘Giving Up’ gives it over to the tin whistle to shine and more lyrics maybe best not to listen to in the dark on your lonesome but by Christ it’d be enough to get you out yer chair and leaping around. As has been said before here on this blog the level of musicianship of some of these celtic-punk bands is incredible.

‘Less Than Angels’ is the first slower song of the album and tells of the Irish that left in those so called ‘famine’ years. Again a real and honest heartfelt song that tells the story in a way I have never quite heard before.

“The hunger drives you to do incredible things

To travel across oceans and cut off all our wings

And be less than angels with sin in our heart

Abandoning our nature, destroying all our art

 

They say that the famine was the cause for all of this

It’s a hell of a gamble, a swing and a miss

A perishable future amongst gravel and soot

The dust of our harvest is trampled under foot

 

Will the poor be poor always?

Zero hope and dream is killed

Will the classes and divisions

Become narrower still

No belief in myself

Erasing all our goals

The grave-digging starts tomorrow

Better start digging your hole

 

The hunger drives you to do unspeakable acts

To lie to your brother, exaggerate the facts

And be less than angels with blood on our hands

The hourglass is emptied of the last grains of sand

 

I’ll do anything for a job, anything for a life

I’ll suffer for the scraps, for child and for wife

Bill collectors have all taken the dignity I have left

Politicians and the banks are all guilty of theft”

The band are back rocking out with ‘It’s A Shame I Did Nothing’ and gives them the chance to show off their rock credentials but also chucks in a flute to keep it celtic and an acoustic guitar that shines through the rocking loud and clear. ‘Another Story of Unreturned Love’ is by far and away the catchiest song on this album of catchy songs. Telling of a failed relationship and its aftermath.

“I couldn’t talk to you

Standing in front of you

Holding my feelings and biting my tongue

And our “Little Ireland” is what we decided on

Things that I wish that I said when I’m young”

All the band come together in celtic-punk perfection and a wee mention for the superb drumming here too. ‘Hardscrabble Road’ is the tale of a loser told in a slow ballad that speeds up towards the end and the accordion drives it along till Alvan’s voice takes the lead.

Coming to the end and celtic-punks favourite subject pops up in ‘Liquid Miracles’ again telling of a loser who, like many, knows exactly what he’s doing but can’t help himself.

“the disease of the mind that I have caught”

Another slower song ‘Central West End’ and more misery and the common theme seems to be that the loser in Rusty Nail songs is trapped by addiction despite knowing all too well what he’s doing. Another catchy as feck number that is a great example of the excellent production here. All the instruments, electric and folk, are clear as them bells (what does that mean??) and despite the tune speeding right up in parts doesn’t lose that clarity so hats off to Chad for the excellent recording and mixing. Chad plays guitar, banjo, dulcimer, accordion, bouzouki, EBow and organ on the album so surely knows what he is doing! Next is the album’s longest song at well over five minutes.

‘Mad As Birds’ another standout track and evokes sadness upon sadness here as the song builds up and up and swirls round and round before ending on, for them, a rather positive note before coming to an end with ‘The Nightmare Will Prevail’

“It’s only fair, that you buy another round for all your friends

They’ve stuck around and stuck up for you

When the rest of us could not pretend

This bitter divide that you’ve caused for us is one that’s hard to defend

But I have faith in you,

Even though it may be hard for anyone to comprehend”

This is pure infectious dance music (proper dance music that is!) with enough fist in the air moments going on here to give you a bad shoulder in the morning! Like the best in celtic-punk its a roller coaster of emotions and the joyous music belies the seriousness of the words and though Alvin’s (and Chris) lyrics often inhabit a dark place it’s the story of Irish-America. It’s not all shamrocks and shenanigans you know. So whether you are looking for a band to get you off your feet and move and shout and scream and spill your drink to or just kick back and sit and listen to with a glass of the pure to warm you and take in every road these bhoys and ghirl have travelled then Rusty Nail are the band for you and whichever you choose you are guaranteed to find a great time.

(you can listen to Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart for free before you buy it by clicking play on the Bandcamp player above)

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  • for another view of the album check out Celtic Folk Punk And More here

(great video with music and band interviews)

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

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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.

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INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY CAMPBELL

A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound with influences from far and wide. Material that embraces traditional music and sometimes frantic Bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery.

Johnny2We are extremely happy that Johnny took time out from megabussing it around the country from gig to gig to do a little interview for us.

The obvious one to get us started so can you tell us how long you’ve been playing music and what bands you have been in before?

Johnny- I’ve been performing live for a decade now, and for the last couple of years as a solo performer. Before those ten years I was playing a battered classical guitar to Bad Religion live albums pretending I was in Bad Religion.

You have played in a celtic-punk band before with Three Sheets T’Wind so how do you see the celtic-punk scene here and abroad?

Johnny- I haven’t performed in other bands to any full-on level of commitment, apart from numerous and humorous side projects and filling in space for musicians who couldn’t make shows…and once trialing for The Popes as a fiddle player but that was a long time ago… I personally feel the scene in the UK is much broader, encompassing Anti-Folk, Alt-Folk and other offshoots. Though across the underground in The Netherlands for example, there are a number of fantastic ‘Folk-Punk’ bands using Banjos, Mandolins, Accordions that you couldn’t label as ‘Celtic-Punk’. It is great to see people’s horizons to ‘Punk’ don’t just start and end with an Electric Guitar.

I would like to think so but does it follow that celtic-punk fans also listen to folk from the past or present?

Johnny- For me yes. Right back to Planxty, Hank Williams or even contemporary folk like Julie Fowlis. The ‘Celtic-Punk’ fans I’ve come across like their fair share of Tom Waits and other artists that are hard to define by genre. I think if you’re into niche music, as in ‘Celtic-Punk’, you’re probably going to be listening to some other interesting styles!

Which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music?

Johnny- Obviously The Pogues…but I think we all know that. The Tossers are in my opinion, the logical progression from The Pogues taking influence from Behan and Joyce and managing to create it in their own American sound. Silly Wizard (possibly Scotland’s Planxty) manage to create an equally ‘rocky’ feel to their sound which leads neatly onto artists like The Horslips, Thin Lizzy and Moving Hearts.

Bit of an odd question this but how would you describe what you do on stage?

Johnny- I describe myself in my write up as an ‘Alt-folk’ musician. This is about as broad as I could make it. It isn’t a musical ‘style’ it is simply a way of saying ‘It is folk music…but a bit different.’ Some have said that shows can differentiate from stand-up comedy to thoughtful political song. I’ll do traditional Irish Anti-war songs like Arthur McBride to A Cappella songs about getting blind drunk and catching STDs from ladies of the night.

It has been said (and I am in agreement) that being a solo artist is the hardest thing to do. Just yourself on the stage and nowhere to hide. What does it take to be a solo performer. I would say big nuts and a big ego but obviously that’s not right for everyone!

Johnny- There’s a certain amount of balls/ego in there to get up and ask people to listen to what you’ve got to say for an hour, definitely. If you manage to fuck up the set, then it really is your own fault. That’s something that is pretty daunting but a challenge to relish I suppose, as the credit (if there is any to give out) is all yours.

At the moment there is a big ‘folk-punk’ thing happening in the UK that seems to have a lot in common with celtic-punk like the politics and aspirations but without major celtic influences. Have you noticed this at all?

Johnny- Because the genres are getting broader and ‘Folk-Punk’ is the easiest umbrella to put yourself under if you perform anti-authoritarian/alternative Folk music… I think that is how it is coming about. Celtic/Irish music has transported well as there is a mythology built up around the Irish. But also the way we can consume music nowadays, we can search for Mongolian Political Folk Punk on Youtube and get an instant response. Which is broadening our intake very quickly. I speak for myself here when I say 10 years ago, when I was 18, the only Folk-Punk you could really find was Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, and anything else on a major label as you had to go to the local (if you had one) independent record shop. Now we are blessed with so much choice, which is generally free which brings its own negative impacts like de-valuing a product and other factors.

It would seem sometimes, and there is certainly a history of it in England (the band that must never be mentioned!), that bands who play Irish/celtic tunes won’t label the tunes as Irish/celtic and would instead categorise it as English folk (so as to not be seen as Irish I suppose) but do you see this as cultural appropriation or not? it sometimes reminds me of Prince Charles roaming round his billion acre estate in Kernow/ Cornwall wearing a kilt!

Johnny- Hmm, it is an interesting one. I don’t think anyone would get offended if you said a tune was English when it was an Irish tune if you believed it was initially. I think it is important to try and research a song or a tune and find out its origins and to recognise it. I can also see some cultural appropriation in there as it is a small way of denying heritage by simply taking is as your ‘own’. I think we must be more concerned with things like the far-right using traditional folk music and making a patriotic gesture with the songs.

Johnny CampbellYou have a new album due out soon I hear. What’s the latest on that? Is it purely yourself or will you be aided and abetted?

Johnny- It’s been a long process, I haven’t released something with new material for about three years. I’ve had writer’s block for a while and since I’ve been on the road the last couple of years I’ve picked up new influences which has come out on the record. I am aided by Kieran O’Malley, a violin player from Leeds who performs with Spirit of John and many other acts..he’s also performed on a Shane MacGowan’s release ‘Rockier Road To Poland’ and backing vocals from Exeter singer/songwriter Rosie Eade. http://www.rosieeade.co.uk/ It will be released early October.

You seem to be on a non-stop tour of anywhere and everywhere so where does the future take you and do you think you will be able to keep it up more importantly?

Johnny- I’m sure I’ll be able to carry on for a few more years as long as my legs still carry me. I only use public transport and we managed to get from Istanbul from Yorkshire in 28 days on public transport on the Summer European tour with James Bar Bowen and Cosmo. We hit squats and social centres through eight countries and the final show in Istanbul got cancelled as the promoter had left to go and fight against fascist ISIS and didn’t tell us! We had about five days to waste in Istanbul because of the cancellation. This was during Ramadan which is an amazing spectacle. We decided to imbibe the culture by visiting mosques, walking the streets and eating kebabs. As long as the gigs keep being interesting, I still have some life left!

Thanks Johnny for taking time out of your busy touring schedule (where are you as you write this?) so all that’s left is for you to plug plug plug and is there anything else you want to add or anyone you want to thank?

Johnny- I’m currently in the South West for a week between shows and getting ready for the release of my album ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ which will be released on my website and Bandcamp in early October! I will be doing a UK and USA East Coast tour in March 2016 with Tim Holehouse www.timholehouse.com (UK tour) and James Bar Bowen https://jamesbarbowen2014.wordpress.com/ (USA tour) but in the meantime I have shows across the UK and The Netherlands with Rob Galloway http://www.theyallayallas.com/rob-galloway which can all be found on my website! Cheers and beers! x

(you can listen to Johnny Campbell’s debut solo EP below)

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  • keep your eyes peeled for a review in the next couple of weeks of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’. I’m lucky to have had a sneak preview and can guarantee its an excellent debut record!

ALBUM REVIEW: GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS- ‘The Thirsty Cave’ (2015)

Celtic Punk or Irish Punk or Paddy Punk or Folk Rock or Rock or Punk or Folk Punk or Folk?

Greenland Whalefishers- 'The Thirsty Cave' (2015)

The latest studio album from one of the most popular and most successful celtic-punk bands in the world!

The eighth studio album from London Celtic Punks fave’s the Greenland Whalefishers and boy oh boy it does not disappoint! Regular readers will know how much we love this band and we have been privileged to have organised both their only visits to London over the years. One of the celtic-punk scene’s major hitters they have been on the go since 1994 and with over 20 years of touring and recording behind them they show no signs of letting up either. On the release of their ‘Looney Tunes’ EP last St Patrick’s Day (review here) we had this to say about them

“For those not in the know The Greenland Whalefishers hail from Borgen in Norway and have been wandering the globe for over twenty years now playing their fantastic brand of celtic-punk for the masses. Way, way before the Dropkicks and the Mollys were even thought of  it was The Greenland Whalefishers who were flying the tricolour for celtic-punk in Europe…and beyond.”

They have toured literally the four corners of the earth and built up a massive fan base all without the help of any major label support and all done on their own terms. They have kept it independent and done it all themselves.

The album is ten songs that come in at a lengthy forty minutes long and has nine original songs (though two were included on that ‘Looney Tunes’ EP mentioned above) and one instrumental. One of the best things about the Whalefishers is that they don’t feel the need to rush through things. Their sound has been likened to The Pogues and I would agree and just like The Pogues they can race through a frantic, fast paced number or a slow ballad and it will not wear out its welcome. This comes from a band being at perfect ease with itself. They trust in what they do and so do we…

Greenland Whalefishers

(left to right) Atle-Hjørn Øien, Odin Døssland, Agnes Skollevoll, Arvid Grov, Ørjan Eikeland Risan, Alexander Bjotveit, Ronny Terum.

This fine album is up there with the best of The Greenland Whalefishers I am happy to say and will I am sure set the scene alight if there is any justice in this world. ‘The Thirsty Cave’ begins with ‘Tinted’ and from the first sounds of the sea followed by acoustic guitar and tin whistle and then Arvids voice begins and we are in familiar territory here. I find myself saying this over and over again but I do find myself judging a lot of celtic-punk releases on not just the music itself. After all a lot of what is released does whether we like to admit or not sound pretty similar so I find myself looking for things that set the releases apart and one of those things is the lyrics or message the band is trying to get across and one of the things that the Whalefishers have always had is strong and powerful lyrics. Again not too dissimilar to that great band that influenced them the most. Vocalist Arvid is chiefly responsible but by no means exclusively so and they are a real collective effort.

“Carry my weight / and if you like some of my hate”

A great song to start with and as catchy as anything you’ve heard from them before. ‘None Of Us Are Faithful’ is up next and is much more traditional celtic-punk. As I already mentioned the lyrics I have to add that there’s not an awful lot of cheerfulness here. Unrequited love, despair, worthlessness, alcoholism, pity seem to be the order of the day but all wrapped in such gloriously uplifting music that half the time you don’t know how sad your singing is! The self-penned instrumental ‘Nothing To Say’ is the album’s shortest track and Agnes tin whistle dominates proceedings and a fine auld tune it is too. Pure paddy punk mixing that Pogues sound with some real punk urgency. We are big fans of Tom Waits here and ‘Angel’ gives Arvid the opportunity to give it his best chance to do a ‘celtic-Waits’ and a slower swirling song that still has plenty of bite in it. ‘Been Away’ has a feel of Hell’s Ditch Pogues to it and speeds along nicely with another sad song

“I ran into you on a rainy night and we fell in love, in the beginning there was light”

’20 Years Of Waiting’ was the title track of that St Patrick’s Day single and is here simply the highlight of an album where every track is outstanding! All the differing components of the Whalefishers coming together in a perfect storm of a song.

‘Ted McKenzie’ is another slower track that somehow doesn’t seem slow at all. So much going on musically that it has the impression of a fast song without being one. All the band swirl round together to make a glorious noise with more tales of woe and death and losing at the bookies. ‘Queen’ is another high point and a ton of London references in the song about meeting some lassie who breaks your heart! Accompanied by a great video of the band filmed on location at home in Bergen and in London on their date at The Water Rat’s back last Summer.

‘Looney Tunes’ is the other song from this years earlier EP and again its a beauty. Rhyming ‘River’ with ‘Liver’ will tell you all you need to know about the songs story. Such great production on this album that continues with final track ‘The Letter’ which sends us home with the fastest song on The Thirsty Cave and the Poguesy feel is never greater.

“Live every day like its now or never, I hope you don’t lose your mind”

So there you have it. Neither a great leap forward or a re-hash of what has gone before but somehow Greenland Whalefishers have pulled out of their hat yet another fresh sounding album chockablock of some fantastic Celtic Punk or Irish Punk or Paddy Punk or Folk Rock or Rock or Punk or Folk Punk or Folk songs. Whatever you want to call it their appeal is universal and they deserve their place as one of the celtic-punk scenes best bands. If you are still to be converted to the Greenland Whalefishers delay no longer and do yourself a favour and get this album. Its not every band that has been together 20+ years you can say the best place to start is with the new album but with the Whalefishers go on and dive in!

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  • For an alternative view of this great album check out the ever excellent Celtic Folk Punk And More’ blog here for their review…

EP REVIEW: JACK OF ALL- ‘Bindle Punk’ (2015)

pirate songs and punk polemics!

Jack Of All- Bindle Punk

Another great new band from England has arrived on the London Celtic Punks doorstep with their cracking debut EP ‘Bindle Punk’. Formed only in April last year Jack Of All began gigging locally but soon they spread their wings out to Yorkshire across the Midlands and even ‘dahn’ here in London. Good things lie ahead of Jack Of All and don’t be a fool and miss out. They have a long list of gigs coming up (here) but they are playing London at The Gunners, 204 Blackstock Road, North London N5 1EN, nearest tube Finsbury Park, on Saturday 4th July so get along and catch them in the flesh. They take the stage at approx. 8pm and its an all day event and completely free for a ton of bands. Keep an eye on the FB Event page here.

Jack Of All

Anna Clifton (violin) and Laurence Aldridge (guitar/vocals)

The Jack Of All sound is of classic English folk but with a few punky chunks added. You can make out obvious influences coming from bands as diverse as Ferocious Dog, New Model Army, Billy Bragg and The Levellers but Jack Of All follow no-one. The first thing that strikes you on listening to the EP is Laurence’s vocals and and how good they actually are. You can forget sometimes that in a genre where Shane MacGowan is king it is actually possible to still sing ‘properly’ and also fit in. Added to this is Anna’s superb fiddle playing and the concoction is pretty sweet. Nothing too manic here and its possibly stretching things by calling it punk but the spirit is there and the spirit is willing. They play mostly original material and I’m sure they would make a fortune if they decided to go the ‘pub route’ but with Laurence being a professional actor and Anna an ethical jeweller they can happily steer clear of that route and go their own way. Thank God I say! The EP’s name was I thought a odd one so I looked it up and came up with

‘a hobo or derelict hired to do rough or unpleasant work’

which seems to fit Jack Of All pretty nicely. I mean even though there’s no Tom Waits style growling its still very much the music of outlaws and vagabonds. They have some pretty amazing lyrics too and by the sound of them they fit in ever so nicely with ourselves, with a sample from Paul Kenny, head of the GMB Union talking to Mark Thomas, the icing on the cake!

The EP starts off with ‘Definitions’ and a bit of celtic sounding fiddle and the tempo is up and Jack Of All are off. From the very start Jack Of All let you know where they stand. Even though they are usually a 2-piece band the added drums on this EP give them a extra bit of bite. ‘Home’ follows and begins acapella style

“if home is where the heart is why is my heart not home”

before it becomes a folky-celticy-rockabilly number and as catchy a chorus as I heard in a long time. A guaranteed foot tapper. ‘Thank You For Your Application’ is the EP’s slowest track but stills keeps up that God-damn catchiness! With ‘Home’ and now this one my foot is going like the bloody clappers! Beginning slow the song builds to a crescendo and what I originally thought was an electric guitar, but turns out to be Anna’s electric violin through a distortion pedal, coming in is a great move. Simply brilliant. ‘On Top Of The Hills’ continues and is still more of the same but how are they keeping up the quality. Absolutely impossible to pick a stand out track as the whole EP is fantastic. If we did marks out of ten it would be 10/10 all round. The final track is ‘All About The Money’ and it reminded me a bit of 50’s style crooning Germans The Baseballs but was a great way to end the EP. Capitalism is a disease and Jack Of All know the cure… They funded the EP themselves through the Pledge music web-site and of each sale 10% goes to charity through Parkinson’s UK, which is the charity which helped the late father of Laurence while he suffered from a life-threatening illness. So there you have a great EP and a chance to help others too so don’t delay! Over twenty minutes and every song is a strong self-penned number well worth your measly few quid. When you do reviews one of the words you find yourself using the most (if you’re lucky) is ‘catchy’. I’m sick of the fecking word but sometimes it explains everything. This EP has it all catchy songs, expertly played fiddle and great vocals and lyrics and all without being over produced. I reckon this EP has captured Jack Of All’s live sound so be sure to catch them somewhere soon. Can’t recommend this enough.

(listen to the whole EP by pressing play on the Soundcloud player below)

 
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INTERVIEW WITH THE RATHMINES FROM BERLIN

The Rathmines

Firstly, can you tell how you guys decided on your name?

Oh, we had a short phase in which we brainstormed about naming our band, shouting out names at random. Somebody suggested The Sporting Jennies, another said: Let’s search the lyrics of the songs for something. But our accordion-player remained silent – and when we finally stopped shouting he said: The Rathmines. Why? ‘Cause he had lived there a while ago while in Dublin. He liked it there very much and had heard stories about it being the artist’s borough and so on… So we said: Okay, even Berlin has bands naming themselves after boroughs of the city (like Pankow for instance). Why shouldn’t we? With that we’re paying respect to a part of Dublin, the past of one of our band members – and we have all the people in Germany constantly asking: What does that mean? How do you pronounce it? What is this? – And it sounds sooooo cool, don’t you think?

(left to right) Marcus - Bass, Vocals; Rene - Cajon; Egidio - Accordion; Martin - Guitar, Vocals

(left to right) Marcus – Bass, Vocals; Rene – Cajon; Egidio – Accordion; Martin – Guitar, Vocals

When did the band form and what inspired you to start the band?

Text?

The bass-player, Marcus, and the singer/guitar-player Martin had a band called Stainless Bones, which kind of broke apart in 2011. We two attended a Pogues-concert in August 2012 , wanting to see Shane for at least one time before he kicked the bucket. Afterwards we sang (or maybe: growled) Irish Folk in the underground on our way home. As we got off the train, a guy approached us asking: You guys make music? So we met our accordion-player, Egidio. He had attended the same concert and rode the same train. The three of us exchanged numbers and decided to focus on Irish Folk which we all liked very much. Some obstacles had to be overcome (Egidio forgot his cell in a cab that very night, so for a while we heard nothing of him and he couldn’t be reached), but we managed to play some small gigs in Berlin. On a gig in January 2013 we found out that a friend of ours, René, had played punk drums years ago. We offered him a Cajon and he agreed. Hence: The Rathmines completed.

Describe your music in three words?

Stolen Songs (of) Struggle

There’s so very much to say right here. We kind of ‘stole’ our material for the most from The Dubliners, The Pogues, Clancy Brothers – from your rich and colourful history and culture. And even when we produce our own stuff, it’s assembled with bits and parts of the tradition of folk, country, rock, blues and punk that already exists. What we do is mostly songs, telling stories of tragedies, wishes, longings, achievements, fights and fates. And struggle? We struggle with the instruments, stages, lights, electricity, audiences, landlords, bartenders, pints, cigarettes, ashtrays, cabs, each other… the audiences struggles with us and among themselves… and the material speaks of struggles way across centuries, ringing on to this very day, and we try to connect them with present struggles. For still the oppressed are fighting their state of existence. You see them when you open the news… We’d like to be one of their voices.

Have you guys ever played in Rathmines, and if the answer is no, why the hell not?

Egidio has. The rest of us? Well, frankly, we lack the means and, yet, the courage. Although we once played ‘The Fields Of Athenry’ in a very small venue in Berlin and afterwards a guy walked up and said: “Hi, I’m David, I’m from Athenry. Can I get you something to drink?” That was kind of the knightly accolade for us, you know? We’re slowly building up the confidence (and band fund) to come. In fact, we were planning a trip to Dublin this summer, but due to money problems we had to put it on ice for now. Would you like to invite us? We’d love to put in the travel costs, if Rathmines offered beds and meals and drinks. 😉

Tell us who are all the members of the band and where are you all from?

Okay, who we have here?

– Marcus – plays bass, acoustic as well as electric, and sings the second voice in many of the songs. He was born and raised in Eastern Berlin (GDR) and works as a nursery school teacher.

– Egidio – plays the accordion. He’s from Italy, was raised partly in Kassel, Germany, and travelled a lot more than the rest of us Europe-wide. He’s currently jobbing his way around Berlin for the summer but usually works in sales.

– René – plays the Cajon – he regularly gets the most attention for doing what he does. Everybody is astonished by what he can do with his hands on a box. He’s also from the GDR, Brandenburg – that’s kind of the landscape surrounding the city limits of Berlin (we tease him by calling him peasant). He works in an Internet Gaming Company.

– Martin – does the singing and plays the guitars. Occasionally he tries to tin-whistle some tunes. He’s the third born and raised in the GDR, Eastern-Berlin, and works as an accountant and employee representative.

The Rathmines

What was it about The Pogues that got you guys inspired??

Who told you that we got inspired by… oh, okay, got us there, we did. Well, looking at the folk scene in Germany it becomes obvious that it’s not very – vivid in the area of Irish Folk. Something like The Pogues have been missing since the eighties. They were very big around these parts… I personally got to know them by my obsession with Tom Waits. His biography stated that he was a big fan of The Pogues and used to hang out with them. So naturally I thought, hey, might be worth it to look these guys up. The rest’s history… And since we got together after a Pogues concert – that’s fate, right? And their ‘Streams of Whiskey’ comes in handy when we decide to arouse the audience, shake the house, break the floorboards and tear the roof down on our heads… Let’s face it: Shane MacGowan is one of the best songwriters in history – and it’s doing his songs a favour singing them yourself rather them hear them be sung by him nowadays…

What is the biggest and smallest gig you guys have played??

Oh we never did small gigs, you know? It’s all about the attitude… In fact our biggest gig was just the other weekend in a little town south of Berlin called Jüterbog. We had been there a couple of times playing so called Pub Nights – 6 hours of playing for an audience that was barely listening the first 3 hours and kept yelling for more and louder and faster songs the other 3. This time we were invited to do the music to accompany an open air communal drinking orgy called ‘Irre Irisch’. We entertained roughly 250 people in a farm yard over 4 hours or so. A little concerned about the weather – but the only time a little rain fell was while we played ‘Rainy Night in Soho’. Lovely coincidence. The hardest gig lately was our trip to a pretrial detention jail to play for a hundred inmates – sitting there with folded arms and frowns on their faces for 45 minutes and freaking out during the last 2 or 3 songs for no special reason. Just before the concert two guards got in a fight and one lost a tooth. You can imagine the mood and the vibes in that place. The smallest gigs are usually the little private party concerts we do for friends or colleagues. Birthdays, weddings, divorces, anniversaries of any kind – we’re not too shy to get close and acoustic and intimate. Our best shows we naturally do in pubs of course. Last year we did a tour through the middle of Germany and played in Weimar in a shed called the Smugglers Pub. Really nice. So we played a couple of hours, had a couple of drinks and decided to lift the mood with the wonderful song about the British Army. You know? “When I was young I used to be…” And this song ends of course with a hearty “Fuck The British Army!!!” So we do it and afterwards a guy arises in the back of the pub, comes up to us, reaches in his pocket and holds a military ID in front of our gin-soaked eyes and says in a low-down intimidating voice: “British army.” – – – Silence. – – – We kind of apologized and laughed insecurely. He sat down with his friend and stayed for the rest of the night, sometime glancing at us with unfriendly eyes. Lucky there weren’t a dozen of them that night…

Have you ever played in Ireland at all?

No, except for Egidio. See question 4. But since this is the second time you ask, we consider that a serious invitation now. So expect to see us soon. No, sincerely, we’d love to as soon as we can manage. After all it’s kind of our Mecca, you know?

Favourite song to play at a gig and why?

Oh, depends on what you are trying to do. To get them stomping? ‘Drunken Sailor’. To get them dancing? ‘The Irish Washerwoman’. To shake down the house? ‘Streams of Whiskey’. To get them to sway to and fro? ‘The Wild Rover’. To show off? Our own stuff. To get them drinking? All of them. But you have to know that every song requires the right timing and moment to work as intended. It’s a guess every night. And fortunately every band member has his own little secret favourite he tries to push to a prominent place on the set list. Now that I think about it, ‘Leaving of Liverpool’ must be the one song that very close to a hundred percent of the times worked, was well received by every audience and was welcomed to be played by every member of the band on every occasion. It just has something to it… and not many popular bands have done it since The Dubliners.

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ALBUM REVIEW: T.C.COSTELLO- ‘100 YEARS AGO’ (2015)

some have called it folk-punk with an archaic edge…

T.C. Costello- '100 Years Ago' (2015)

If T.C.Costello was a drink he’d be equal parts punk rock and folk music, a bit like a Whiskey Mac perhaps! Originally from South Carolina in the United States this is his fourth record release and for certain its his most ambitious. Throughout the album runs the theme of, the only song not written by T.C, the old sea chanty ‘100 Years Ago’.

T.C.Costello

whiskey is his spirit animal…

T.C.Costello is you see one of them really annoying people who can play a multitude of instruments and can seemingly turn his hand to just about anything. For those of us with feet for hands we really hate that! The album features everything from your normal celtic-punk gear such as acoustic guitar, Irish Bouzouki, tin-whistles and accordion but doesn’t just end there as there’s also the sounds of horn pipes, a Chinese instrument called a Hulusi that sounds like bagpipes and even a khaen, an ancient bamboo instrument from Laos. The music itself has the vibe of celtic-punk, no suprise what with T.C Irish-American roots, but is more reminiscent of pirate punk due to the subject matter. These genre’s are basically the same anyway and even if you don’t agree with that they definitly overlap. The songs are all told with humour and and in a story-telling style. The music is the background to the words and with the clear and crisp vocals you can make out every word T.C tells. As for comparisons the only ones I can think of are a maybe piratey Tom Waits / Nick Cave perhaps but with a twisted Irish/ Balkan thing going on. He also reminds me a lot of a London band called Folk Grinder who are well worth checking out. All the songs on ‘100 Years Ago’ are self-penned except for the title track and with eighteen tracks it flies by, with no dragging or filler, super quick at just over thirty five minutes. A lovely wee album and I have already checked out his other albums. This is not an album to jump around to but any lovers of celtic-punk should be well use to moments like these. Sometimes the point of the music is the words in the song. As the left-wing band Easterhouse once said “music is not enough…”

As already mentioned it’s virtually all original songs of classic Irish-American folk music but with punk intensity and with a cheeky side. Often humorous and sometimes political but always fun and in T.C’s own words the songs “without exception go well with beer…”

(to play the whole album through click play below)

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘People Take Warning! Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs 1913-1938’ (2007)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD

people are always drawn to the scene of an accident and it was no different in the past either…

A simply stunning 3 x CD box set that is now out of print and unavailable unless you’re willing to pay an absolute fortune. It’s the real deal of authentic folk and country from black and white performers from the dawn of the roots of America’s musical traditions. Seventy  beautifully remastered recordings with over half on CD for the first time. So here’s your chance to download it but be quick and if you have any problems leave a comment.

VARIOUS ARTISTS People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938 (2007)

Close your eyes and hear the suffering through the ages, as disasters both great and small are relived in song by roving musicians with only a fiddle or a guitar to stake their claim on history.

Close your eyes and see the carnage reenacted. In Frank Hutchison’s ‘Last Scene of the Titanic’, see all the pretty ladies in their evening gowns and all of the tuxedoed gentlemen plummet over the deck of the great juggernaut as it collides with a massive iceberg, sending them wailing and flailing and thrashing in a demonic ballet into the icy Atlantic waters.

Open your ears and hear the plaintive cry of a child in the night, who wakes from a portentous dream in which his daddy is trapped in the interminable blackness of the coal mine, Blind Alfred Reed’s ‘Explosion in the Fairmount Mine’, only to discover that dear daddy was indeed trapped in a mine explosion and is one of 200 unrecovered miners never to see the light of day again.

True-life scenes such as these are the subject of this massive box-set, in which seemingly congenial-sounding folk and blues songs from the early twentieth century document disasters and real-life tragedies with a quiet intensity that disturbs the casual listener far more than any contemporary death metal band could. This is not Sturm und Drang, this is real pain and suffering devoid of fantasy or romanticism. These are songs for the legions of anonymous dead, musical coffin markers for the ones who were lost along the way.

Highlights range from the grim to the funny. In ‘Mississippi Heavy Water Blues’, Robert ‘Barbecue Bob’ Hicks complains that the murky brown flood waters have washed all the wimmenfolk away. The original version of ‘When the Levee Breaks’ by Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie remains a haunting testament to the 1927 Mississippi Flood. Charlie Poole’s ‘Baltimore Fire’ is spectral in its account of hundreds consumed by the flames of a raging inferno. Then there’s my personal favourite, Bob Miller’s ‘Ohio Prison Fire’, in which a distraught mother is asked to identify the charred remains of her late lamented son:

“I’ll take my boy back now.

The state’s finished with him.

The state’s finished with all of these bodies.

These poor, charred bodies!”

Disc Three switches the focus to murder ballads, showcasing songs of cold-blooded homicide that have clearly influenced the work of such hard boiled musical greats as Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, the latter providing the eloquent introduction to this set. Early versions of such blood-soaked ballads as ‘Billy Lyons and Stack O’Lee’, the legend of Stack O’Lee or “Stagger Lee” exists in many forms, and ‘Darling Cora’, also known as ‘Darling Corey’, stand alongside lesser-known death row oddities like ‘The Trial of Richard Bruno Hauptmann, Pts. I & II’ an ode to the murderer of the Lindbergh baby. True crime buffs may favor this disc as much as musicologists.


Special mention should be made to the impeccable sonic reproduction by Christopher King, who understands the mystical power inherent in the snap, crackle and pop of old 78 records and faithfully reproduces the elusive sound of the victrola, cranked up and wailing away like a banshee in a tin can. The static of these old grooves perfectly encases the sadness of bygone eras like ancient beetles trapped in amber. Timeless and lifeless.

In today’s post-9/11 world, the fear of arbitrary annihilation is almost taken for granted, yet this collection serves as a moving reminder that tragedies of every kind have always lived on in the music of American folk musicians, perhaps to serve as a talisman for future generations.

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DISC ONE- MAN v MACHINE

DISC TWO- MAN v NATURE

DISC THREE- MAN v MAN 

ARTWORK AND LINER NOTES

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re use to. To lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

EP REVIEW: SEAGULLS ARE DRUNK- ‘Next Round Is On Us’ (2014)

Folk Irlandais
Seagulls Are Dunk-'Next Round Is On Us' (2014)
Seagulls Are Drunk are from the French city of Reims and this is the bands follow up to the album ‘Ordinary Tales’ from 2012 and a ‘Demo’ from 2011. A EP that flits between different styles of folk music but with a underlying love of Ireland, Scotland, losers songs, boats, silly music and beer! At just a few seconds under twenty minutes the EP flows seamlessly despite the songs ranging from folk to celtic to rock and pretty much everything else inbetween.
Seagulls Are Drunk

Seagulls Are Drunk… with one member missing. went the toilet at the wrong time!

The four members of Seagulls Are Drunk, Bruno, Olivier, Quentin and Fabien have managed to produce something which would actually make you think there’s about ten in the group such a talented bunch they are. Kicking off with ‘Deep Inside Out The Sea’ and a flute intro and straight away the very distinctive vocals and accordion grab you. Slowish sea shanty stuff but not yer usual fare at all. Very interesting with the vocals switching from French to English and a real nice tune with a gang chorus and something i don’t always mention but I really liked the drumming in this song too. ‘Big One Rainbow’ begins in the same way with the flute before drifting off into loads of different influences from medieval folk to Spanish folk and back to celtic. ‘In The Wasteland’ is the most French sounding song on the EP to me and is faster paced than the previous songs. More surprises on ‘The Ballad Of The Jackal’ as it begins with the piano and Bruno at his most Springsteenish in the EP’s slow paced celtic classic with what sounds like that old cockney favourite the spoons being given a good whack. The final track is my favourite, ‘Mr Average’ is another slower song with the lyrics and the accordion turned up and leaving you something to think about. Seagulls Are Drunk pull out all the stops playing untold amount of instruments and it works great with once again Bruno’s vocals working brilliantly with the tune.

Five tracks, twenty minutes, great production and recording but unfortunately no lyrics so you’d miss nothing by downloading this. Loving this EP and although its not yer usual celtic-punk fare it certainly is not out of place and if you’re a fan of Tom Waits at all then I’d say you’ll love this as much as me.

Contact The Band
Buy The CD
only available for now direct from the band e-mail them at seagullsaredrunk@free.fr
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