From France it’s the Toxic Frogs. 5 girls and 2 Fiddles. Six fantastic new original songs with the Mahones Finny McConnell guesting on lead single ‘Thank You Humanity’.
The last thing we were expecting was a flurry of new releases to land at London Celtic Punk Towers in the first couple of weeks of 2021. With releases down to the bare minimum during the latter part of last year we were surprised and delighted to receive them and will be giving them all the LCP treatment in the following weeks! So far we have 1916, The Feelgood McLouds, Jason Stirling and Tir Nan Og to catch up with but first this six-track EP from the French band Toxic Frogs.
The most obvious place to start with the review is that they are Celtic-Punks only all female band (I had quite a good rant about the idea of segregating bands into female/male ones when we reviewed their last release The Mermaids Song so I will spare you that this time!) and with an EP and an album, Kill The Devils, behind them they have kept up a steady stream of well produced videos to keep them in the Celtic-Punk public’s eye. As I say to bands all the time a good way to keep your profile up when you are not actually recording is to put out videos. Toxic Frogs ones are always entertaining and well produced and they have become one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands through them. Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 it was Ella who came up with the idea of an all girl Celtic-Punk band so started to advertise and soon enough a team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for the excellent French Celtic-Punk legends Celkilt she already knew the scene well and as soon as they hit the practice rooms something gelled. The name is an obvious dig at the friendly nickname the English give to French people (well don’t they call the English “rostbif”!!) and within a few years they had made quite the name for themselves with their energetic and passionate live performances and soon developed their own musical style as well.
My Lucky Own is released today and the EP starts with ‘Beginning’. A short intro of wailing eastern style fiddle soon giving way to the EP’s first single the superb ‘Thank You Humanity’. Chugging guitars and I’ve always been a big fan of dual vocals and they are used expertly hear with Ella dueling with no other than Mr. Mahones himself Finny McConnell. Finny has been as busy as pretty much any musician alive during the various lockdowns and it’s really nice to see him helping out other bands. The vocals are quiet, almost whispered in parts and it fits perfect the song and it’s story of leaving your homeland to go on an adventure.
The lyrics are all in English here and Ella certainly has a great voice and you can barely hear her French accent at times. The two fiddles give them a pretty unique powerful sound and having added banjo to the groups sound giving them a more ‘gaelic’ sound than before especially on ‘My Lucky Own’. Tribal drumming and again rather subdued musically and not the raucous free-for-all we have been use to with previous Toxic Frogs releases but that is soon sorted out with ‘The Shamrock’s Jig’ instrumental and a full throttle Irish throwdown with fiddles flying and smoking I am sure! These girls can certainly play and top marks for making it all themselves. No ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’ here you know! The EP really gets into its stride with the final two songs and they Punk it up with ‘Bestie Life’ while ‘Go Back Again’, for me the album’s standout track, is about as close as they come to a Celtic-Punk ‘standard’. Tuneful and catchy with great vocals and them fiddles and banjo with gang “Hey Hey’s” and a brilliant chorus and a great way to end proceedings.
The EP is sadly only sixteen minutes long but I’m afraid we will have to get use to the idea that at the moment bands will find it much easier to record shorter releases and full length albums will I fear be thin on the ground throughout 2021. On top of all that is the much reduced opportunity to promote anything via live gigs and tours. Thankfully though new music is coming out albeit sporadically and we are lucky to receive My Lucky Life. The girls have recently signed to Otbox Productions ( a French record label and tour promoting agency) so hopefully those of us further afield will have a chance to see them play live at some point in the future. This EP shows Toxic Frogs are much much more than just a ‘all girl band’ and can quite rightly take their place among the continents best Celtic-Punk bands.
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French celtic-punk chicks band!
Four Girls Two Fiddles
Toxic Frogs are quite the anomaly within celtic-punk circles it has to be said. As much as i hate the idea of segregating bands into male and female it is refreshing to see a all-female band in the scene and standing tall too. Most of the time it seems to me that when ‘female’ music is brought up we are suppose to like it whether or not we do actually like it or not. The failed and discredited identity politics that handed the American election to Trump have ensured that people can no longer have an opinion on ‘certain’ things without being shouted at and labelled by hysterical bigots with no actually basis in fact. Anyway rant over and my point is that as a music reviewer my job is review music not ‘virtue signal’ to you all how right on I am by giving good reviews to bad or mediocre music just because the band fit someone else’s ideological pigeonhole. I don’t not have to worry about any of that shite here mind you as The Mermaids Song is abso-fecking-lutely fantastic!
I have heard plenty about Toxic Frogs in the short time they have been together without actually hearing an awful lot of what they have put out so far. Always on my list of bands to find out more about I just had never gotten round to it. Their 2015 album Kill The Devil somehow passed me by except for this review from Celtic Punk Folk And More here but they have kept up a steady stream of excellent videos that have at least introduced them to the wider celtic-punk scene if not me personally!
Toxic Frogs left to right: Lucianne Wallace- Guitar * Elvina Lynn- Bass/ Fiddle * Lydie Dupuy- Drums * Ella Beccaria- Fiddle/ Lead Vocals
Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 Ella came up with the idea of staring an all girl celtic-punk band so started to advertise the idea and soon enough the team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for French celtic-punk legends Celkilt she knew the scene and as soon as they hit the practise rooms something gelled. Taking their name from the not so friendly nickname the English give to French people they began to make waves in the celtic-punk scene almost straight away but the question everyone wanted to know was did the band deserve the hype and the answer listening to The Mermaid’s Tale is undoubtedly a resounding yes!
The EP begins with the instrumental ‘Scott Is Back’ and what a start to proceedings. The band consists of electric guitar, bass and drums and some almighty fiddle playing. The music sits nicely on the fence between celtic-rock and celtic-punk and many a time could fall into each within a single song and the standout here is that amazing fiddle playing though that’s not to say the rest of the band don’t play their part equally as well. The song begins with a Scottish feel to it I think because of the Scottish style drumming before a more traditional Irish sound comes in. The songs builds to a breakneck speed and ends with a fantastic flourish. There are a couple of bands in the scene that have female singers like Irish Moutarde and Brutus Daughter but most of the the ladies are confined to backing vocals or taking the lead on ‘Fairytale Of New York’! The band sing in English and ‘Criminal’s Heart’ is pure pop-punk heaven. Much more of a folk-punk number until near the end when the celtic fiddle kicks in and leads the song until the end.
Title track ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ is up next and there’s some blatant metal overtones here which remind me of all girl punk legends L7. Again the fiddle comes in well after the song has established itself showing that Toxic Frogs could easily get away with being just a run of the mill rock band as well. Again the fiddle brings the last curtain down on the last couple of minutes. We are in celtic-punk territory with ‘Toxic War’ and the girls go about their job with a frantic fast paced song with plenty of gang vocal “Hey, Hey” going on.
Last year Katie out of The Mahone put down her accordion for five minutes to record the now infamous ‘F*** You’ for the Hunger And The Fight Part Two album and now Toxic Frogs can add to that with their own ‘F**k You’. At just over six minutes long its a bit of an epic and begins with a slow and soaring guitar rock solo. Ella comes in with her vocals and the music lifts and then all of a sudden we back with the more trad Toxic Frogs sound. A great song that never drags and a brave song to record knowing that celtic-punk fans much prefer short n snappy songs …unless they are ballads and then you can go for as long as you like. Shades of grunge are back in ‘Go!’ with the chugging guitar and the EP ends with the majestic ‘Violins and Hammers for Ever’. Yeah they save the best for last in my humble opinion. Like I said just a few lines ago I am a absolute sucker for a well played ballad and here Toxic Frogs manage it in spades. A beautiful song where Ella’s voice on this EP never sounds better. The best way to bring the curtain down at the end of a celtic-punk record without a doubt.
So an excellent record and good enough for me to leave you in a minute to go and check out their back catalogue as well. Seven great songs that clock in at over thirty minutes so probably long enough for us to call it a album seeing as it is longer than a few other 2017 album’s. Their is talk from our fellow London celt’s Urbankelt about bringing Toxic Frogs over to play so hopefully that will come off as they deserve to be seen far and wide.
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