Life of Good is a very good album! Very much a return to roots by the Mollies after the more boundary pushing Speed of Darkness. The general consensus around the “interweb” is Life is Good is the best thing Flogging Molly have done since Within a Mile of Homeor even Drunken Lullabies and I would very much agree – settled science. The young pretenders have been snapping at FMs heels for quite a while but Dave King and gang have stepped back into the ring to reclaim the Celtic-punk heavy weight title. So without a track-by-track, blow-by-blow review here are the highlights.
Welcome To Adamstown, with it’s ska/horn dance-ability. I actually grew-up not too far from Adamstown and went to school right beside it. There was nothing there when I was in school a lifetime a go, just fields and a country house. In the late 1990s/2000s there was a massive property boom in Ireland – developers built thousands of houses in west Dublin yet no real infrastructure was put in (shops, schools, churches – yep you atheists) then the whole thing went bust leaving unfinished streets and negative equity, unemployment and bank foreclosures. Now there are hundreds of houses but still noting there. Welcome To Adamstown gets the story right.
The Last Serenade (Sailors And Fisherman), reminiscent at times of the magnificent the son never shines on closed doors.
Flogging Molly are truly back and life is great.
There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1
The Hand Of John L. Sullivan
Welcome To Adamstown
Reptiles (We Woke Up)
The Day’s We’ve Yet To Meet
Life Is Good
The Last Serenade (Sailors And Fisherman)
The Guns Of Jericho
Crushed (Hostile Nations)
The Bride Wore Black
Until We Meet Again
While SLF are currently taking their brand of shell-shock-rock through the halls of the UK, Europe and North America to celebrate 40 years of existence, Best Served Loud, the legendary Belfast band’s latest offering is a double live album (on CD and DVD as well) that commemorates their 25th year headlining Glasgow’s legendary Barrowland Ballroom on St. Patrick’s Day – now if you’re thinking Glasgow/Scotland and Paddy’s day is weird then you don’t know Glasgow and the Barrowland – the ultimate place to be on the day.
Feeding off the energy of the best audience in the world, SLF have clearly not lost a drop of energy as the band enters middle age, showcasing material from career influencing (other bands careers**) Inflammable Material through more recent ‘classics” such as Guitar and Drum and Strummerville. Best Served Loud captures the authentic raw energy of SLF live – a fact I can testify as being the real McMordie having seen them live three times in the last few years with tickets acquired for a fourth.
1 Go For It
2 Wasted Life
3 Just Fade Away
4 Roots, Radicals, Rockers And Reggae
5 Guitar & Drum
6 Nobody’s Hero
7 Back To Front
8 Barbed Wire Love
10 Doesn’t Make It Alright
11 Silver Lining
12 Guilty As Sin
13 At The Edge
15 My Dark Places
16 Fly The Flag
17 When We Were Young
18 Tin Soldiers
19 Suspect Device
20 Gotta Getaway
21 Alternative Ulster
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard anything new from former Pogue Jamie Clarke (guitar on the much underrated Pogue Mahone). Hell Hath No Fury follows in the Folk-a-billy direction of 2011’s Beat Boys – part Pogues, part Rock-a-billy, party outlaw country in a spaghetti western kind of way. The cover of La Bamba is a must hear. A real solid album.
In 2004 The Peelers album Liquordale was Shite’n’Onions album of the year – always a good launching point for fame and fortune in the Celtic-punk genre. Then……… nothing………nothing for 13 years!!! Now we have have the follow-up, ‘Palace of the Fiend’. Thirteen tracks in all. That’s one for for every year since Liquordale.
So where have the Peelers been? New York, The Bronx and Afghanistan. San Diego, Harlem, Dublin and on to the Spanish Coast. Down south, up north. From St. Johns to Boston and back to Ballingarry.
What have they being doing? Fighting at Vinegar Hill and with General Meagher, pub crawling to Baltimore. Brawling with the Westies and hanging St. Michael. Sailing with St. Brendan. Drinking Guinness, snorting…., getting clean and sober, falling again. Fighting the Devil, fighting the final round, finding redemption.
And is ‘Palace of the Fiend’ any good? Fuck yeah. Double fuck yeah. This is Celtic-punk at it’s very, very best, fast, powerful, raw, the poetry of those who have really lived – part Pogues, part Mahones and part Behan. I know it’s only May but I’m prepared to call ‘Palace of the Fiend’ album of the year for 2017. See yah in 2030 lads.
Resolved is the second outing of the partnership between McDermott’s Two Hours signer, songwriter (as well as novelist, poet, playwright and general smart guy) Nick Burbridge and fiddler, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim Cotterell
(also of Scot’s Celtic-rockers The Electrics). Like the duo’s first outing, Gathered, Resolved is not an immediate collection of music in anyway but worth (well worth) the investment. Beautiful poetic lyrics of ordinary lives livedm, overlaid with sparse and haunting Celtic melodies in a Dylan meets Planxty style. The main songs on the album are inter-spaced with Tankas – short poems in Japanese style (had to look that up!). Check out a couple of samples from Resolved below and give’em a few listens.
And for good measure here is Nick with The Levellers
I somehow missed reviewing the Ceili Family’s latest last year when Ministry of Silly Folk was originally release – sorry ‘bout that lads – still passage of time is not a good excuse to not review the album now. Ceili Family are from Germany and Ministry of Silly Folk (Fawlty Towers fans here me thinks) is the bands 3rd (I think) full-length release. Now like all good German bands the Ceili Family have a enduring love for the Pogues – the Pogues at their Irish dance hall band best – speedy, spunky, accordion lead, Celtic-folk-punk with infectious melodies and pints of poteen to beat the band. Check out “Throw You Diary” and “Band of Bowsies” and if these don’t get you moving your most likely dead.
Just in time for Paddy’s days comes Kier Byrnes & Friends with their take on some of your favorite traditional drinking and fighting tunes. Most of you will know Kier from his long-running Boston based alt-country band Three Day Threshold (check out Pub with no Beer on Shite’n’Onions Vol. 2). Blarney sees Kier hang up the stetson in favor of a fisherman’s cap in the very best Liam Clancy tradition to give us something best described as Alt-Celtic-America.
From the former whaling city of Providence, Rhode Island comes SCC with their second full length collection of raw, acoustic sea shanties and before the mast maritime fare with just enough rum and snarl to keep the punks happy. Lovers of early Pogues or Tony Duggans solo stuff will love.
I must call out the physical product. Three years in the making , Kettle Jane, is release in the form of a book of maritime art by Rhode Island based traditional and tattoo artists inspired by the songs on Kettle Jane.
Rolling Down the River
Greenland Whale Fisheries
Jolly Rovin Tar
Three Score and Ten
Can’t you Dance the Polka
Five tracks here of pure Aussie ragged, jagged and raw folk-punk from somewhere in the outback based Handsome Young Strangers on their latest release the Battle Of Broken Hill EP.
The self-penned title track recounts a bizarre happening in 1915 close to Broken Hill, New South Wales when two Turks attacked a train of vacationing Aussies, killing four to bring the great war down under. The other standout track is Ned, which is about, well….Ned Kelly, Australia’s original bad boy Irish punk. The Waterboys Fisherman’s Blues is covered true to the original though honestly I prefer Ned and Battle Of Broken Hill.
A very fine EP and somewhat educational from a band soon to be spoken off in the same breath as the Go Set and the Rumjacks.