Tag Archives: Tosspints

ALBUM REVIEW: DONNY ZUZULA- ‘Chemicals’ (2019)

Donny Zuzula has worn a lot of hats and walked a lot of miles.

Having spent a decade as the guitarist, singer, songwriter for the Michigan based Celtic-Punk trio The Tosspints, Donny Zuzula’s debut album takes us through every aspect of his life. Dark, sad, heartbroken tunes, poetically sung from the soul and layered with guitars and harmonies.

The Tosspints are a strange band within the Celtic-Punk scene. Not only are they the only trio in the scene, being made up by the Bros. Zuzula, Donny and Zak accompanied on drums by John Johnson, but they are also not really much of a Celtic-Punk band in that they have no Celtic instrumentation. It is true though that they somehow manage to convey the feel of a Celtic band better than most with just bass, electric guitar and drums. Donny who is the main writer for The Tosspints is a singer-songwriter in the old school meaning of the term. Not some pampered puppet singing achingly of experiences they have never or will ever know. Celtic-Punk is dominated by several themes that cross from continent to continent especially among the children of the diaspora- Loss and emigration, heavy drinking, heavy working and death, solidarity, religion, class pride, an gorta mór (the great hunger) all bleed into the modern day working class Irish-American experience. Donny had a knack back then (a must listen to album is The Tosspints excellent album The Privateer from 2015) of capturing this way of life and here on his debut solo album he continues in much the same way. Donny chose to record a solo album rather than another Tosspints album because

“this solo venture is more of an exercise in writing alone to explore more versatile styles that wouldn’t normally be courted along with the band. A little more folk influence and a little more explorative of personal topics than when writing is done with the band, this album is just different enough to be something new, but just familiar enough that fans of previous work should feel right at home.”

Donny served time in the military overseas and these experiences alongside growing and living in Saginaw, until recently the most dangerous places in America! Once a thriving and successful town by the late 20th century, industry and its once-strong manufacturing presence had collapsed leading to increasing unemployment and crime. This hard nosed, working class background runs through The Tosspints music. It’s also an area of America with long historical links to Irish emigration with Irish emigrants responsible for building the areas many canals and even the areas connection with Irish nationalism has always been closely linked with the Labour movement in which Irish-Americans were among the earliest organizers and leaders. As the band say about themselves

“living through the school of hard knocks, brought to bear from war, loss, degradation, and hard drinking. A band created entirely by a family who has had to make it through life the hard way and use their experience to create songs about the more distressed side of being human”

Donny Zuzula first album is Chemicals, the much anticipated follow up to The Privateer and as ever Donny draws from not from cliches but from the very life of a man who has seen and experienced things we can only dream about. From being a war veteran to fatherhood, Donny takes us on a ride that incorporates Folk-Rock and Punk as well as honest to goodness blue collar working man’s music. Introduced to music through his fathers love of Neil Young, Donny takes a harder edged route and while stopping short of Punk it has the same appeal as The Tosspints and will I am sure be welcomed by fans of that band.

The album begins with ‘Alive’ and the Neil Young comparison is still OK but also crossed with the great Bob Mould. Donny’s vocals still rock and his range is extraordinary and conveys the emotion of the songs perfectly. This is no guy going through the motions. The song is catchy as hell as can be expected and sets the scene for an album that continues to impress me on each play. ‘Another Shot’ veers into that 80’s Post-Punk sound that saw Punk’s not afraid of complicated guitar riffs and more elaborate set ups.

“I crossed a line today
I marched to battle and on my way
It’s just a memory
But feels like it’s all happening again”

The words here seem so personal that it kinda feels funny to attempt to make sense of them from the outside. They speak in such a way that I would recommend looking up the lyrics on Donny’s Bandcamp page. ‘Never Go Back’ slows things down akin to a rock ballad but no cheese while ‘Empty And Gone’ comes up with a delicate Country-rocker. ‘Nothing Left To Say’ takes us back to Mould territory and an excellent rocking tune that gives Donny amble opportunity to show off his vocal range.

Catchy as hell and a guaranteed favourite that leads nicely into ‘Any Other Day’ and if the words here don’t strike you in the gut then there is nay hope for you.

“It’s getting awful late
And my urge to medicate
Has surpassed my will to use the skills
That keep me from the bottom of the bottle”

The final three songs of Chemicals show Donny in reflective form as he turns again to the influence of Country music though wrapped up well in punk attitude. Slide guitar on ‘Turn Away’ makes it the more obvious tune but on ‘Sleep Is For The Weak’ the influence is just as great but more accessible.

“I tell that bottle
all my hopes and my dreams
I tell that bottle
all that’s happened to me
I tell that bottle
the way that I really feel
that bottle understands me
in a way you never will”

Leading the way to the albums closing tune and the albums standout song, ‘Chemicals’.

I would compare Donny in a lot of ways to Bryan MacPherson who has featured on London Celtic Punks pages perhaps more than any artist. Like Donny, Bryan’s life has seen ups and downs and his songwriting draws you right into his soul. We are not voyeurs in their life and they neither hold up their experiences as a vehicle for their music it is much more the other way round and the music becomes the way to express themselves. Where others may play up to events in their lives Donny, and Bryan too, has that ability to draw you into his life through their music. It is something incredible and a talent that very few have and many more think they have but don’t! Chemicals is many things. It is gritty and heartfelt as well as passionate and inspiring and the words are powerful. Chemicals deserves to be heard…

(You can stream Chemicals on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Chemicals  Vinyl/CD  Download

Contact Donny Zuzula  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS OUR BEST OF 2015!

Best Of 2015 (2)
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…

TOP 20 CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS

1. THE RUMJACKS- ‘Sober And Godless’  (here)
2. THE MAHONES- ‘The Hunger And The Fight Part 2’
3. 1916- ‘Last Call For The Heroes’ (here)
4. FEROCIOUS DOG- ‘From Without’
5. THE GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS- ‘The Thirsty Mile’  (here)
6MR.IRISH BASTARD- ‘The World, The Flesh & The Devil’  (here)
7.  THE DEAD MAGGIES- ‘Well Hanged’  (here)
8THE GO SET- ‘Rolling Sound’  (here)
9. MICKEY RICKSHAW- ‘No Heaven For Heroes’  (here)
10. HAPPY Ol’ McWEASEL- ‘Heard Ya Say’  (here)
 11. JASPER COAL- ‘Just The One…’  (here)
12. THE CUNDEEZ- Sehturday Night Weaver  (here)
13. THE FATTY FARMERS- ‘Escape From The Dirty Pigs’  (here)
14. THE SHILLELAGHS- ‘Bury Me At Sea’  (here)
15. JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Sobriety’  (here)
16. MALASANERS- Spanish Eyes’  (here)
17. SKONTRA- ‘Foguera’  (here)
18. THE WAXIES’ ‘Down With The Ship’  (here)
19. KITCHEN IMPLOSION- ‘Selfish’
20. THE TOSSPINTS- The Privateer  (here)

TOP TEN CELTIC PUNK EP’S

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.
1. MICK O’TOOLE- ‘1665 Pitchfork Rebellion’  (here)
2. DIRTY GLASS- ‘Drunken Summer Night’  (here)
3. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS- ‘Split w/ The Barracks’  (here)
4. ZUNAME- ‘Pipes Not Dead’  (here)
5. THE HYDROPATHS- ‘Wailing Away’  (here)
6. SOUTH SHORE RAMBLERS- ‘Open Room Sessions’  (here)
7. O’HAMSTERS- ‘Kiss My Irish Ass’  (here)
8. LOCH NESZ- ‘Leave The Captain Behind’  (here)
9. CIRCLE J- ‘Year Of The Goat’  (here)
10. SIGELPA- ‘Ens Van Diagnosticar Un Transtorn’  (here)
11. THE MOORINGS- ‘Nicky’s Detox’  (here)

TOP TEN FOLK/TRADITIONAL RELEASES

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)
2. BARRULE- Mannannans Cloak’  (here)
3. LE VENT DU NORD- ‘Têtu’  (here)
4. BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Wedgewood’  (here)
5. THE RATHMINES- ‘Ramblin With The Rats. Stolen Songs of Struggle’  (here)
6. ANTO MORRA- ‘Boudicca’s Country’
7. JACK OF ALL- ‘Bindle Punk’  (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

Celtic Folk Punk And More BlogAgain 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

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

CELTIC-ROCK

PADDYROCK

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TOSSPINTS- ‘The Privateer’ (2015)

Murder city celtic-punks!

The Tosspints-The Privateer

This is the The Tosspints fourth album and after the success of all that’s gone before them their new album ‘The Privateer’ does not disappoint and comes up trumps in every way. The band is made up of the brothers Zuzula. Don is a combat veteran of the Iraqi war and Zak a history teacher and along with drummer John Johnson they make up The Tosspints certainly one of the main American bands to have make a splash over this side of the pond without ever actually setting foot over here.

The band are named after a Pogues song written by Jem Finer about the day in the life of a complete waster.

“Tosspint under flaming sky
Walks through the fires of Hell
Where bestial demons threw the damned
Screaming as they fell”

They did in fact start off as a bit of a Pogues tribute band before beginning to write their own material and setting forth on their own. The ‘Murder City Celtic Punks’ is a reference to Saginaw, where the band hail from. Just south of Saginaw is Detroit, also called the Motor City, and Saginaw right now is currently the most dangerous in America. Its certainly not easy place to live and it never has been. The poverty and the hard times have always been around for many and the so called American dream simply never materialised for many of the American working class.  Saginaw was once a thriving lumber town but by the late 20th century, industry and its once-strong manufacturing presence had collapsed leading to increasing unemployment and crime. It is this hard nosed, working class background that runs through The Tosspints music, their sound and the ethos around them too. It’s an area of America with long historical links to Irish emigration. From 1853 to 1854, Irish emigrants dug the Ste. Marie Canal while others dug canals in Grand Rapids and Saginaw. Irish nationalism in both Michigan and the United States in general has always been closely linked with the labour movement in which Irish Americans were among the earliest organizers and leaders. 

As the band say about themselves

“living through the school of hard knocks, brought to bear from war, loss, degradation, and hard drinking. A band created entirely by a family who has had to make it through life the hard way and use their experience to create songs about the more distressed side of being human”

Their powerful and energetic live shows are legendary and have led to them sharing the main stage with ALL the big names in celtic-punk. Fast but tuneful punk rock with enough celtic influences for us to claim them as one of our own!

The Tosspints

The Tosspints left to right: Zak Zuzula- Bassist/Vocalist * Don Zuzula- guitarist/vocalist * John Johnson- Drummer

‘The Privateer’ kicks off with the nautically themed  ‘Pirates Life’ and if you get the feeling that the ocean runs deep throughout this album then you are only half right. A catchy as hell tune and great lyrics combine with some class Rock’n’Roll/ country and punk to give them a feel of bands not unlike Social Distortion.


One of the most amazing things about The tosspints is that with just guitar, bass and drums and vocals they manage somehow to have a celtic sound and ‘Untitled Western’ is typical of this. A very definite connection comes through though not sure if a non-celtic punk fan would spot this. ‘Marching On’ is typical also of the bands rage at the injustice faced by many in the States today. Don suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his time in the military and this song borrows elements from ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ and updates it to the story of a modern day soldiers return. A great song with amazingly poignant lyrics that you know come straight from the heart and not some songwriters workshop. As I have said many a time a defining feature of the best of the celtic-punk bands is their lyrics and not necessarily their tunes. To take the themes that are common in celtic-punk like loss and emigration, drinking and death, solidarity, religion, class pride and turn them into lines that are aren’t a cliched hack is an amazing achievement and The Tosspints are right up there with the best. We are a genre of music formed in the wake of a band where the singer had the worse voice in popular music but was considered a genius when it came to song-writing so this should come as no surprise. ‘We Are the Many’ is a fast paced song reminding me of the old Wobblies saying

“we are the many, you are the few, we are going to win”

They take a while to get round to a drinking song, not like them at all, with ‘My Last and Only Friend’ and when they do it’s a beauty. The Tosspints like a pint…of whiskey that is and the tune rattles along superbly.

“Whiskey you’re my last and only friend”

‘Hollow Man’ is the definite album standout track and obviously the band think so too as they have produced an unmissable video to accompany the song. The LP’s first track that slows down a little and again Don’s words hit you squarely in the jaw.

“Remember us if at all
Not as lost and violent souls
Just the men who stood together
Shed our blood and paid our tolls”

Obviously Don’s background comes to the fore in this story of a former soldier just trying to survive while dealing with his own experiences of war while coping with personal feelings that don’t seem to be understood or even cared about by ‘civilians’.

“I am not a hero
I’m just a hollow man”

Don bares his soul again for us on the ‘How Do You Feel’ where he talks about how his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has affected his family. A trio of nautical songs bring the album to an end. ‘Sailors Grave’ is one of the shorter and punkier songs with a great chorus while next up is ‘The Dregs’ which would normally be called a epic at over five minutes but then ‘The Privateer’ ends the album and at fifteen (yes 15!) minutes this IS what an epic song is. The introduction of fiddle gives them a larger range to roam and they make use of it in this cracking song which takes a trad route before speeding up to high heaven half way through and then calming down again. Once again I am more than impressed by the great lyrics and it’s a huge testament to them that they can make a fifteen minute song that bears repeated listening. Not many could do that… and I mean not many.

The Tosspints

The album is out on East Grand Records and comes in CD form or is available for download.  The beauty behind this album is everyone I have spoke to who has heard it has completely different favourite songs. Such is the wide scope that The Tosspints travel on this record. They have outgrown their Irish musical roots and developed into a band offering much much more. Though they are perfectly happy to keep a foot in the celtic-punk camp they will surely appeal to a much larger audience we than we can offer them. An intelligent and honest band with proper roots in their community and something for us all to be proud of that our class can throw up bands like this in, times like this.

(to listen for free to ‘The Privateer’ press play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy The Album

FromTheBand  Amazon  CDbaby  iTunes

tosspints1

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp  ReverbNation  Soundcloud

East Grand Record Company

WebSite  Facebook  Store

FREE DOWNLOAD: IRISH PUB SONGS COMPILATION

FREE DOWNLOAD!

phonto-7

To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day 2014, and courtesy of GET ROCK MUSIC, we are super pleased to offer you this superb collection of some of the finest celtic-punk bands around to download completely for *FREE*. Seriously this is as good a sampler as you’ll find of what’s alive and kicking and fecking brilliant in the world of celtic-punk 2014. Download link below but you can follow the links to find out more about each band.

TRACKLIST

01. Celkilt (France)- Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day  WebSite
02. Drink Hunters (Catalonia) – Drinking Song  Facebook
03. The Ramshackle Army (Australia) – Boilermaker’s Hands  Facebook  WebSite
04. Auld Corn Brigade (Germany)- Day To Day  WebSite
05. The Vandon Arms (USA) – Streets Of Gold  Facebook
06. Sunday Punchers (South Africa)- Guinness – Facebook
07. Lexington Field (USA) – Crazy Eyes  Facebook  WebSite
08. The Lagan (London)- Fields Of Athenry  Facebook  WebSite
09. Fiddler’s Green (Germany)- A Bottle A Day  WebSite
10. The Detonators (Serbia)- My World  Facebook
11. The Tosspints (USA) – Blood or Whiskey  Facebook
12. Pint Of Stout (Ukraine)- We All Deserve To Die Facebook  Album Review here
13. The Fatty Farmers (Spain) – At The Counter Bar  Facebook
14. Cheers! (Czech Republic)- Cliffs Of Galway  Facebook
15. Fox’n’Firkin (Australia)- 1788  Facebook
16. 1916 (USA)- Wild Rover  WebSite  Facebook
17. Bastards On Parade (Galicia)- Drunken Haze  Facebook
18. The Tossers (USA) – Here’s To A Drink With You  Facebook  WebSite  Album Review here
19. Irish Moutarde (Quebec)- Farewell to Drunkenness  Facebook  Album Review here  Band Interview here
20. LochNesz (Hungary)- Have Another Whisky  Facebook
21. Brutus’ Daughters (Spain) – 6 Beers  Facebook
22. The Scally Cap Brats (Canada) – Dress Sharp, Drink Hard  Bandcamp
23. The Irish Rovers (Canada) – Drunken Sailor  Facebook 
if any links go dead leave a comment or use the Contact Us form via the top of the page
YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE ALBUM BELOW
CLICK ON THE ALBUM SLEEVE BELOW AND FOLLOW DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS
you can download Irish Pub Songs for free if you wish but there is also an option to donate to the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign. Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton have been locked up unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. To find out more information on the case visit
jftc2.com
www.facebook.com/JFTC2/
So there you have it. The CD clocks in at a whopping 70 minutes + and its not even dominated by North American bands with 15 countries represented on the compilation.
So get downloading, get a drink in your hand and get listening…
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