Reviews – 2008

Scary Crick: Some Low Glow

Scary Crick are the finger picking fast acoustic/folk side project of upstate NY’s The Rubes (plus one). “Some Low Glow”, is their debut 9 track CD out on Rube Records. I would describe it as bluegrass meets Celtic played with the spirit of punk. Vocals are equally shared amoung the 4 members – Mike plays mandolin, Paul plays guitar, Kris plays tenor banjo, and Ryan plays bodhran and jews harp. I do though sturggle with the vocals – I don’t know if it’s the mix or they just don’t fit an acoustic band (more punk or even Death metal at times) – Then again I think it might though be a case of the boys just having to smoke a whole lot of cigarettes to get’em right.
http://ruberecords.org/scarycrick/

The Croagh Patrick: Hell’s Jig

Japanese bands in this genre are unfortunately and all too frequently overlooked. Perhaps the difference in languages makes finding and ordering them so difficult, or maybe the biggest hurdle is the price after shipping from Asia. Whatever the reasons, some great bands’ music is being kept from our ears. The Croagh Patrick is one of those great bands.

HELL’S JIG is the 2nd full length release from The Croagh Patrick, and with songs like “??,” “????,” and “????????,” one can guess that the courted audience is mostly Japanese, but that is where the primary Eastern influence ends. The Croagh Patrick’s sound is a fresh, tight and compact mix of an energetic Paddy-Punk style and high-speed, driving melodies that create a real upbeat mood that is accessible and highly enjoyable despite the language barrier.

The band’s instrumentation is made up of guitars, banjo, mandolin, bass, drums, accordion and tin whistle, divided among it’s five musicians with such a well blended sound that no one instrument stands out more than the others in the mix, instead giving the songs themselves the spotlight.

2007’s HELL’S JIG, the follow-up to the 2005 debut, SLAINTE, includes in its packaging all the tracks’ lyrics, which is helpful because the two songs that are allegedly in English would never be decipherable without reading along. Somehow, however, this doesn’t matter. The songs are so good and executed with such enthusiasm that the vocals become simply another ornamental instrument in the disc’s overall signature.

You may not be able to sing along with the words in these songs, but sitting still is not an option, either. Dashboard drumming is almost unavoidable but requires a whole new level of proficiency when HELL’S JIG is in the deck.

One final caveat: This disc was not an easy acquisition. I found this out after many months on backorder from JPOPhelp.com, but with the wait (finally!) over, it was well worth it.

Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/thecroaghpatrick
http://sound.jp/thecroaghpatrick/

The Pokes: Poking The Fire

Out of the Celtic Folk-Punk hotbed of Berlin, Germany comes The Pokes. And yes, the name was chosen as a tribute to Mr. MacGowan and Company.

Despite this, the band makes it quite clear that they are “not Irish and do not pretend to be.” They make this clear not just through the very frank statements saying just this on their CD liner notes as well as their website and MySpace page, but also through their music; not only omitting any songs about Ireland or any traditional Irish covers on their ‘POKING THE FIRE’ release, but including 2 tracks sung in German! ‘POKING THE FIRE’, the band’s 2nd full-length release, is full of rowdy, rambunctious, sing-alongs, that seems to aim as much for creating its own sound as it does to staying true to its Paddy Punk formula. In doing so, something altogether unusual is the outcome, with few words summing up The Pokes as accurately as the word “fun.”

Instrumentally, the CD plays like a showcase for the accordion with banjo ornamentation and the rest of the band providing an elaborate and very percussive backdrop with sharp, angular voicings from the acoustic guitar, bass, and drums.

Lead vocals are abruptly barked out in emphatic, boisterous metronomic syncopation and kept within a limited scale for a result that seems to hide the German accent; noticeable only now and again throughout the disc’s fourteen tracks, (thirteen, plus an unnamed, uncredited, banjo-only tune that starts after sixteen minutes of silence after last song on the disc ends.) This vocal treatment does create a mood that seems somehow foreign to the familiar melodies; contrasting, yet complimenting. Perhaps, an attempt at some sort of hybrid sound between the Celtic influences and the band’s German heritage was the goal here. Whatever the aim, the result is a sound that is pretty singular and recognizable to The Pokes.

The disc opens with a great track called “The Day I Pass Away,” (with an equally cool video available at the band’s MySpace page,) that sets the pace appropriately, and the disc’s velocity barely drops below this bar.

Or, in short, fun.

Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/thepokes
http://www.thepokes.de/

The Clay Faces: The 3-Track EP

Comprised of three members of the recently defunct band, Jugopunch, plus a new guitarist, ‘The Clay Faces’ sound is, not surprisingly, in the same vein of that rootsy, alternative-folk sound.

Instrumentally comprised of acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, percussion, harmonica and vocals distributed amongst the quartet, the sound is one of distinct and open clarity without distortion. This openness allows for easy discrimination between the various instruments as well as the vocals. All lyrics, too, are clearly discernible, but with apparent emphasis on vivid imagery. These elements combine to give a sort of timeless quality to the the songs found on this EP.

“The 3-Track EP” has, yes, three tracks, but also a video of the the opening song, “Football on the T.V.” and, for those with even just a passing curiosity in this band, is available for free on the band’s MySpace page. Also on the MySpace site are some examples of the band’s other songs, all cementing the impressions given by the E.P.

If you were a fan of the band, ‘Jugopunch’, you’ll definitely want to look into ‘The Clay Faces’. I’d also recommend this to anyone who likes the sounds of ‘Billy Bragg’, ‘The Men They Couldn’t Hang’, or to those interested in the idea of an English folk-rock band with rootsy, punky leanings.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/theclayfaces
http://www.theclayfaces.com

The Brazen Heads: Who’s Yer Paddy

If you’re ever stuck in Arizona on Paddy’s Day then there is only really one place to be – wherever The Brazen Heads are holding court. “Who’s Yer Paddy” is chocker block full of upbeat sing-along Celtic rock originals (and a couple of standards) all done with that cheeky sense of humor that only a true Dub can pull off. The bio mentions Bear Naked Ladies (along with the usual suspects – The Pogues/Waterboys) as an influence and who am I to disagree -especially since I’d be pushed to name one of their tracks. My own ears though remind me of 70’s MOR Celtic rockers – Bagatelle.

http://www.myspace.com/thebrazenheads
http://www.thebrazenheads.com/

Ciaran Murphy: The Verbal Hand Grenade EP

Ciaran Murphy is a singer/songwriter/one man acoustic hand grenade from West Belfast. A protest singer in the finest tradition and politically sharp as a syringe needle hanging on razor wire. Murphy on this 7 track release points out the often ugly truths of Irish life, asks difficult questions and never pulls his punches. Akin to Damien Dempsey with pin pulled out.
http://www.myspace.com/ciaranabc

Surfin Turnips: 20,000 Leagues Under The Severn Sea

Sometimes genius is a simple idea. Take the Surfin’ Turnips from the West Country of England (Devon and most of the south west – where people actually talk like pirates). They take familiar songs and melodys, replace the lyrics with odes to scrumpy cider, play’em like The Ramones with an accordian and of course sing ’em like pirates. Simple. Pure genius.

http://www.myspace.com/surfinturnips

Celtic Cross: Shores if America

I remember these guys playing around The Bronx in the mid-90’s, so I was surprised to find out they are still around 14 plus years later. I was also surprised by their sound. I had figured they would be a more edgy Celtic-rock similar to the bands who were playing around the scene those days – Black 47 and Rogues March. They are not. I would liken them more to melodic rock meet full force céilí – Cherish The Ladies might be the closes comparison – the . If your looking for the next Flogging Molly CD this probably isn’t for you, but if your looking for beautifully play melodic Celtic rock with an amazing female vocalist in the personage of Kathleen Fee and thought full lyrics on the New York Irish American experience then this might be just the one.
http://www.myspace.com/celticcros
http://www.celticcross.com/

The Kissers: Candy Ratz

It’s somewhat ironic that The Kissers swansong release is a live release and very appropriate it is too. After 10 years on the road playing up to 200 gigs of a year of Pogues meets Indie rock, The Kissers called it quits this year. So it’s nice to have a memento of a great of the band at their best – live. I think all 15 tracks (originals, traditional and covers)on this release are previously unreleased so thats an added bonus for a live release. My favourate tracks are “Newry Highwayman” and the amlost reggae version “Come Out Ya Black and Tans”
http://www.myspace.com/thekissers
http://www.thekissers.com/

Boiled In Lead: Silver

25 years into their career the Minneapolis based Boiled in Lead have released one of their best CDs to date. BiL occupy ground somewhere between The Pogues and the Oysterband. Essentially Celtic folk rock – I don’t want to use the Celtic-punk label as I think this would do a disservice to the virtuoso playing found on “Silver” – with an edge meets the world – North Africa, Balkans and even gothic/medieval times. If The Chieftains ever tried to make a rock CD (or Led Zeppelin went Celtic) it would be Boiled in Lead’s “Silver”.
http://www.myspace.com/boiledinlead
http://www.boiledinlead.com/

Mongrel: Fear, Lies, & Propaganda

I’m not too sure why Mongrel’s label though it would be a good idea to send S’n’O a review copy of their latest release “Fear, Lies, & Propaganda”. S’n’O has a pretty narrow focus – Celtic Punk – and that’s one thing Mongrel isn’t. To be fair I did give ’em a good spin and it ain’t bad if metal/punk is your thing. Kind of reminds me of Pantera – especially the riffing. Gommel this ones for you.
http://www.myspace.com/mongrel
http://www.mongrelband.com/

The Closet Squatters: Here We Go Again

Chicago’s The Closet Squatters are heavily influenced by the holy trinity of American Celtic punk – The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. These influences are very apparent on their newest release, “Here We Go Again”. Songs like “Rovin’ Eye” and “Why Must Yah Leave” are acoustic Celtic rockers in the vain of The Tossers. The Dropkick’s influences can be heard in the dueling vocals of “Her and I”, ala DKM’s “Dirty Glass”. Pretty much everything is highly influenced by Flogging Molly, in fact these guys at time sound more like Flogging Molly then Flogging Molly sound like these days on “Float”.
http://www.myspace.com/closetsquatters

The Gobshites: Get Bomber/Another Round

“Get Bomber” and “Another Round” are two separate CDs both released on the same day by one of my favorite bands. Boston’s own The Gobshites. The Gobshites basically take old punk-rock standards, preferably punk-rock drinking standards and give’em a good old Celtic headbutt in the nuts. Highlights on “Get Bombed” include “Nervous Wreck” (The Nips), “Alcohol” (Gang Green), “Too Drunk To Fuck” (Dead Kennedys) and “Long Way Back” (The Ramones with Tommy Ramone helping out The Gobshites on backing vocals). Highlights on “Another Round” include “Frigging in the Rigging” (Sex Pistols) and “Drinking and Driving” (Peter and The Test Tube Babies). Also, “When The Shite Hits The Fan”, The Gobshites first release has been remastered and re-released.
http://www.myspace.com/gobshites
http://gobshites.com/

Pat Chessell: Live And Lusty

Live And Lusty is the debut CD from Irish-Canadian, Pat Chessell. Recorded live in October 2007 at Vancouver’s’ Dublin Crossing Irish Pub in front of a rowdy and vocally appreciative crowd. The set consists of mostly high energy Irish/rebel songs, some Canadian/maritime, one original (I think) and being Canadian a hockey anthem. Chessell is a strong vocalist and the band tight. Musically it’s a high energy version of The Clancy Brothers or Wolfe Tones with a touch of Johnny Cash or maybe even the Great Big Sea. A good introduction to a name we will be hearing again (and again).
http://www.myspace.com/patchessell
http://www.patchessell.com/

Spud N**ger: Scratchings – The Free Spuds EP

As a sub-genre, ‘Celtic Folk Punk’ tends to be a hybrid; a combination of traditional and punk styles. It’s songs, (contemporary, traditional, or a mixture of the two,) and instrumentation, (from both the rock and traditional music arenas, i.e. electric guitars with fiddles, whistles and/or pipes, etc.,) make up the elements that typically define this style of music. Nevertheless, almost as if this seemingly instinctive concept wasn’t properly explained, along comes ‘Spud N**ger,’ a band that is Celtic, being from the very middle of the Emerald Isle,) Folk, (well, acoustic anyways,) and Punk, (in almost every other interpretation of the definition.)

More specifically, ‘Spud N**ger’ is an acoustic punk trio out of County Westmeath, in the center of Ireland. Made up of acoustic guitar, bass, drums and vocals, the three-piece outfit plays fast-moving, upbeat punk in a stripped-down, minimalist style entirely like itself and no one else.

‘Scratchings’, the sampler EP from the band, contains five tracks with lyrics embracing the punk ethos and ideals of anti-authoritarianism, anomie, and rebellion, on top of fast-moving, driving rhythms. Though strictly acoustic, and thusly devoid of any distortion or effects, the tracks on ‘Scratchings’ still provide a broad and varied sound and, while a family resemblance between each song is undeniable, each has a unique personality of it own.

The disc’s five tracks continue with the bare-essentials mentality and contain no elaborate intros, solos, spoken word, raps-in-the-middle, or drawn-out fade-to-silences. In fact, the song lengths on the E.P. ring in at an average of just two and a half minutes each. Without the additional instrumentation of larger bands, however, and with the lack of solos, the vocals and lyrics tend to fall under the lead spotlight. In the case of “Da Spuds,” as they are sometimes billed, this is not a bad thing at all. Lead vocalist, Fr. Jack’s voice is both confident and in control as he delivers the one-two punch of lyrics comfortably and clearly. The lyrics themselves are clever, laden with locally specific terminology, (i.e. ‘The Gardai,’ ‘Donegal,’ or as in lines like “when coming off the smack you stole the bogroll in the jacks,” from ‘Cake ‘N’ Beer,) and often humorous, and, partially due to the shortage of competing sounds, distinct and easy to make out. The songs are also very sing-along-able, (although some discretion is suggested due to certain “grown-up words,” especially in the song, ‘Donegal!’)

Describing the Spud N**ger’s sound is not an easy task. There are elements here and there that may remind the listener of something else, (like the attitude of The Ramones every now and again, or occasional rhythms reminiscent of Nirvana,) but, as there really is no one else doing this style that I am aware of, I won’t continue to attempt this exercise.

‘Scratchings’ may be only five tracks and less than twelve minutes longs, (and, apparently free to anyone in Ireland!), but, hopefully, it does give an indication of what to expect from this band.

As such, it makes it known that Spud N**ger is definitely a band to watch out for.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/spudnigger
http://www.spudnigger.com

Irish Stew of Sindidun: Dare To Dream

Okay, I want to start off by saying that this is a great CD. This band is a tight, solid and cohesive group of musicians that create a sound so completely synchronized and in harmony with each other. I dig their sound… A lot.

Okay, with the editorial portion out of the way, Irish Stew of Sindidun is a six-piece, Celtic folk-punk outfit out of Belgrade in the former-Yugoslavian state of Serbia. Their instrumentation on this CD includes acoustic guitar, bass, drums, banjo, fiddle and tin whistle, with all of the lyrics in English, (albeit a somewhat accented one.)

Singer/whistler/chief songwriter Bojan Petrovic’s slightly nasally midrange tenor voice comes in so well connected to band’s sound and really carries the emotions of the songs with a lazy melancholy appropriately befitting the subject matter on ‘Dare To Dream,’ the band’s second full-length release.

The CD consists of twelve tracks; ten originals, two covers, and one instrumental. The songs on ‘Dare To Dream’ are not the “mug-swinging, sing-along” kind by a long shot. Instead the mood carried is a darker, introspective and brooding one with titles like ‘Blessed and Damned,’ ‘Pile of Sins,’ ‘Life Without Living On A Sunny Winter Day,’ ‘Memories,’ and ‘I Will Never (Be Your Friend.)’ The disc’s two cover tracks are traditional numbers; the fittingly somber ‘Carrickfergus,’ and the ironically happiest-sounding song on the disc, that traditional, toe-tapping little ditty about reclusive infanticide, ‘Weila, Waila.’

‘Dare To Dream’ comes off Celtic-sounding more in instrumentation and ornamentation than in it’s songs’ structure themselves, and, due to this, has me comparing this band to ‘The BibleCode Sundays,’ ‘The Mahones,’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘The GO Set.’ Not necessarily for their sound, but in the way that all elements work together so seamlessly to create a sound that begins in a Celtic-influenced light punk arena and bleeds into many different styles consistently.

It seems that most of these Slavic bands have remained in the more obscure corner of the genre; perhaps due to language or cultural differences, or perhaps due to the high cost of obtaining some of these bands’ material, But Irish Stew Of Sindidun is not one that should be overlooked.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/irishstewofsindidun

The Righs: The Rivers Run Deep

Okay, I gotta admit, I hard a hard time getting into the release ‘The Rivers Run Deep’ by Oklahoma’s The Righs. I couldn’t put my finger on why this was, though, and I decided that instead of putting it aside, I would scrutinize the disc and write up my criticisms. In doing this, however, the CD not only grew on me after only a couple of spins but I also developed quite an appreciation of The Righs’ sound.

Most immediately noticeable on the ‘The Rivers Run Deep’ is the CD’s rough cut, ragged edge, reminiscent of a recorded “live-in-the-studio” release which gives an impression of the energy that the band must convey while on stage. Listening further in, I discovered difficulty in finding an umbrella-term that could encompass all the influences at work. I mean, this band is all over the map with original songs of Ireland, (‘Dublin: Easter; 1916’,) cover songs from Scotland, (‘Loch Lomond’, and ‘Amazing Grace’,) a sea shanty, (‘I’m Bound Away’,) a deep country/western caterwauling chorus, (‘I Hope I Never see You Again’,) and tales of ghosts and Hobbits. Most surprisingly to me, though, was the use of a trumpet in a couple of songs, including the lead-off track.

Now, I have never been particularly interested in the trumpet’s sharp, shouting blare and this may have contributed to my initial indifference. I chastised myself for my close-minded hypocrisy, (seeking out and applauding bands for their new, unique and signature sounds, yet quickly blocking my ears at the inclusion of, *gasp,* brass!), despite the instrument’s use on only a small percentage of the CD’s 10 tracks. It should also be noted that the trumpet’s voice is used in a subtle supporting role. I dropped my prejudices and, after a moment to digest the blend found myself smiling in approval and even wishing for further inclusion of the “non-kosher” sound throughout the disc!

As for the rest of the instrumentation, a more traditional mixture of guitars, bass, drums, mandolin, fiddle, tin whistle and banjo are shared by the six members of the band. Vocals ring in strong, confident and comfortable somewhere between Flogging Molly’s Dave King and The Skels’ Chris Fried and compete only with the fiddle for the front pole-position in The Righs’ signature sound.

The strongest element in ‘The Rivers Run Deep’, however, is the songs. After I stopped scrutinizing and started simply listening, I noticed them. Really well-written songs. Very catchy melody lines with intelligent and engaging lyrics within the interesting arrangements.

So, in a final attempt to define the sounds on this CD, let me just say that The Righs’ debut release, ‘The Rivers Run Deep’ is an enthusiastic Celtic folk-punk blend seasoned with sea-spray, barn-floor sawdust, Tolkien-esque halfling toe-tapping, and a pinch of brass. If this doesn’t sound like your type of music, just remember, it wasn’t mine. Then, it was. Now, despite the seemingly unrelated influences at work, (or, perhaps, because of them,) I not only enjoy this CD, but I find myself anxiously looking forward for future releases!

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/therighs

JD And The Longfellows: Happy Hour Again

I really feel that I didn’t give JD And The Longfellows first album, “Confessions”, a fare shake when I was putting together the Shite’n’Onions best releases of 2006. It didn’t quite make the top 10 – mostly cos I only got me grubby hands on the release late in December of that year – so I gave them an honorable mention. In retrospect 2 years later and after multiple listens if I could go back in time I’d move it up into the top 5 (then again if I could go back to 2006 I’d more likely be cleaning up on sports betting wins…..).

I’m very glad to say the “Happy Hour Again” is more of the same as the hedonistic JD leads his Longfellows through a drunken night of debauchery through London’s low life pubs in his familiar growling baritone. The Longfellows are the ultimate party-folk band with their mix of drinking lyrics and aggressive folk-punk meets jazz meets blues and American Country. I also really like the angelic jazzy backing and co- vocals of Clare Longfellow who acts as the perfect foil to the growling JD on this release. And if that doesn’t take your fancy then note this – ‘Happy Hour Again” is the ultimate party record of the year.
http://www.myspace.com/jdandthelongfellows
http://www.jdandthelongfellows.com/

The Fisticuffs: Neatly Stumblin’

A coupla’ months ago I ran across this band and ordered their debut CD, Bruised But Not Beaten and found it to be a very enjoyable entry into my Paddy-Punk library. And although this first release didn’t immediately inspire me to write a review, it had certainly whetted my appetite for further material. Fortuitous timing as I discovered this 2006 release only weeks before their follow-up disc, Neatly Stumblin’ was released. It is this CD that I am writing about today.

The Fisticuffs are a young, (formed in 2005,) six-piece hailing from South-Side Chicago and according to their MySpace page, list The Tossers and Flogging Molly early amongst their influences. These influences are evident from the first listen through, and comparisons to those bands are proving a challenge to avoid. So apologies in advance.

Neatly Stumblin’s instrumentation includes fiddle, mandolin, whistle, guitar, bass and drums, with some added harmonica and banjo peppered in here and there for some added spice. At the front of this mix are Bobby Baldwin’s barking vocals coming in like a mid-way point between Flogging Molly’s Dave King and The Killigan’s Brad Hoffman, but with a pinch more ire, like he is justing getting past a mean case of road rage. My only complaint is that they seem mixed a slight bit too loud on some songs, giving a feeling of disconnectedness from the rest of musicians. This, however, is not the case for all tracks, fortunately, and the majority of the vocals work quite well with the rest of the sound creating a solid recognizable entity.

The band chose to include a couple of covers on this release, (including Whiskey in the Jar, and Finnegan’s Wake,) however, with a total of sixteen tracks on the disc bringing it’s total time in at just under an hour, one can’t really accuse them of using covers as “filler” material. Originals on the disc range from toe-tappers to mosh soundtracks to a couple of lilting instrumentals, without a dog in the bunch. However, I have no idea why the band chose to not put God Bless Ya Rosie on their MySpace page. This is an awesome song that would definitely be moving this disc!

Now I know that this is reflective of my own personal tastes, but the mandolin/fiddle interplay from the debut release is what made me buy this sophomore disc, and I am really happy I did. This particular element is a strong feature on Neatly Stumblin’ and, along with Mr. Baldwin’s enthusiastic vocals, really creates a defining signature sound for this band.

With its many good songs and catchy riffs, I would recommend The Fisticuffs’ Neatly Stumblin’ for fans of Flogging Molly, The Killigans, and The Tossers, or just anyone who really digs mandolin and fiddle riddled Chicago-Irish punk!

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/thefisticuffs1
http://www.thefisticuffs.net

Jamie Clarke’s Perfect: You Drove Me To It

By my count this is the 4th studio release from the former Pogues guitarist. The German based Perfect have now expanded to a 4 piece and there is a definite noticeable filling out of the sound. Style wise, “You Drove Me To It” is very much similiar to previous Perfect releases – classic British pop/rock meets the Irish-punk of The Pogues on the stage of a German beer hall. The disk is a little heavy on Pogues covers (4 out 14) though I do really like the almost polka Tobi’s Fall (IISFFGWG). ‘Adorable’, a really great original, originally on “Sickly men of 30 or so” has been re-recoded as a sparser more guitar oriented version. Well worth seeking out.
http://www.myspace.com/jamieclarkesperfect
http://www.homeofperfect.de/

Black 47: Iraq

Somewhere deep down I just know B47s main man Larry Kirwan gives thanks for GWB. I’m not saying that beneath the veneer of an East Village liberal is a gun toting red neck (and haired) Republican, but if it wasn’t for GWB and the Iraq war then B47 would still be stuck in the neutral gear they have found themselves in for the last few years. “Iraq” has again given Black 47 that purpose they had in their early albums. For those of you new to the scene and unfamiliar with Black 47 – the basic B47 sound is a familiar traditional Irish foundation built upon by horns, punk’n’pub rock (and the blues!!! in “Sadr City”) along with Kirwan’s Springsteen like lyrics that on Iraq look at the war though the eyes of the ordinary s olider, Iraqi and loved ones left behind (“The ballad of Cindy Sheehan” is touching – though still I think she is insane). Still one of the best and most original bands out there.
http://www.myspace.com/themightyregis
http://www.black47.com/

The Mighty Regis: County Sligo

Any band named after the greatest Irish American of all time – Regis Philbin – is O.K. with me. Seriously though, The Mighty Regis are a very fine Celtic-punk band from Hollywood, California who along with The “Mighty” Dirges form the backbone of the scene at LA’s Molly Malone pub. Though The Regis are much more rooted in the traditional Irish sound then the more punky Dirges. The Pogues at full galloping Bottle of Smoke speed is the very obvious influence here. A twenty fuckin five to one winner.
http://www.myspace.com/themightyregis
http://www.themightyregis.com/

The Tossers: Gloating and Showboatin’ (Live on St. Patrick’s Day)

Live on St. Patrick’s Day indeed!!! Haven’t both the Dropkick Murphy’s and Shane MacGowan previously released Live on St. Patrick’s Day concerts? Basically, here we have a CD/DVD package of The Tossers live in their home town of Chicago on the big day in 2006. Live and in the raw is the best way to experience the Tossers and both the disk and DVD do a great job. In fact all that’s missing from experiencing the real live Tossers show is getting an elbow in the face and some clown pukeing on your shoes. Also, its nice to finally have a version of “Seven Drunken Nights” with Clay on vocals. The CD and DVD are both from the same set but there is also a whole bunch of additional live/bootleg/videos on the DVD. A great double disk and great value.

(PS I very almost slammed this release ‘cos I was pissed the Victory can’t seem to think to send Shite’n’Onions a review copy – then again I should be thankful I ain’t on their promo list ‘cos I can’t stand anything else on the Victory label.)
http://www.myspace.com/thetossers
http://www.thetossers.com/

The Pubcrawlers: One Too Many Again

The Pubcrawlers, for those whose don’t know, is a ten-headed, sonic hydra belching out briny pub-shanties with infectious enthusiasm and a loaded arsenal at their disposal.

This beast is fronted by a salty-voiced pirate of a vocalist whose spleenful barking resembles something closer to enraged spoken-word poetry than actually singing, for a result perfectly befitting the nautically-themed songs on this, the band’s second full-length CD.

One Too Many Again is a 13-track collection of Celtic folk-punk songs/tunes with a strong pirate-sounding influence, (including a paean to The American Hockey League team out of Maine, The Portland Pirates!) on a large and varied collection of instruments including bagpipes, accordion, drums, fiddle, mandolin, guitars, banjo, bass, and tin whistle.

The high-impact, energetic assortment of songs and tunes extolls the virtues and pitfalls of the bottle, Lady Luck and that ficklest of mistresses, the sea. And although the entire release moves along at a pretty good clip with no real ballads, the band does include a guttural, yet particularly emotional version of ‘Back Home In Derry.’

The ‘Crawlers may enter the fray with one metric sh*tload of traditional instruments, (everything shy of the Tibetan anus flute!), but, to their credit, they don’t try to stuff all of their sounds in together for every minute, but instead create a rich, multi-layered sound of convincing sea ditties, mug-swingers and fist-pumpers.

So if you like your buckles swashed, your sea-dogs scurvy and your Celtic folk-punk with the sting of sea-spray, you may want to get yer hooks into this release.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/thepubcrawlers
http://www.the-pubcrawlers.com/

The Dreadnoughts: Legends Never Die

This highly-anticipated release, (well, by me, anyways!) grabbed me immediately upon my first play through, living up to and even surpassing my expectations. No “How-do-you-dos” or needing to grow on me, No! Just here it is… BAM! A favorite new disc that I hadn’t heard before!

The Dreadnoughts’ sound is one of a driving, crunchy guitar at the helm of a tight and kinetic rhythm section that provides a dynamic underscore for the combination of traditional instruments that define each tune, specifically mandolin, fiddle, and one monster accordion. All these elements come together for an intricate and engaging backdrop for Ol’ Jimmy’s distinctive, rolling roar.

But at the end of the day, its the songs that carry the CD, and here is where Legends Never Die really shines! The disc’s 11 tracks include frantic and frenzied hornpipe and reel-based Celtic songs, and crashing and forceful whaling and maritime rants full of folk-tale, storytelling lyrics sung with fiery urgency, that blur the lines between contemporary songs and traditional tunes past the point of knowing where one ends and the other begins.

Legends Never Die may be the debut release by Vancouver quintet The Dreadnoughts, but it possesses all the confidence, muscle, and production of a seasoned outfit in the prime of their career.

Recommendation: You should really own this. Seriously.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/vancitydreadnoughts

Big Bad Bollocks: Hanged at Gibbet Rock

Originally released in 1991, Big Bad Bollocks’ Hanged at Gibbet Rock has been re-released on the “Load a’Bollocks” label for 2008 and available through the bands website, along with their other fine products.

“…Gibbet Rock” starts off as strongly as any Bollocks release, (or even as strongly as any young Paddy-Punk band can hope to,) with the song “Whiskey in me tea” (and for an idea about what I mean, check out the video on YouTube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHNQ4BGjskc,) and keeps up that pace through the disc’s ten tracks including a beautiful rendition of “Sally Gordon,” and the appropriately enthusiastic standards, “Waxies Dargle” and “Leaving Liverpool.”

The original songs on this earlier release are all of the upbeat, party, “happy-drunk” variety that the Bollocks’ have become known for and have that same quality of an incidental Celtic lilt as well as lyrics that seem as much of a cathartic purging of unresolved issues as they do odes to, and about, Johnny Allen’s days gone by back home in his native Derbyshire.

There’s no denying that Mr. Allen’s got a powerful and distinct voice, and even on this earlier release his crooning bravado seems fully developed and presents as a comfortable and commanding entity directing the energy of each of the ten tracks. This does pose a bit of an inconvenience on the other instruments, however, relegating the majority of them further back in the mix, giving the disc less depth and polish than later Big Bad Bollocks’ offerings.

Although lacking the theme, finish and shine of the “Night on the Tiles’ or even the production depth of “Where the Beef Meets the Sea,” “Hanged at Gibbet Rock” presents as an early snapshot of the swaggering Johnny ‘Alien’ Allen and co. as a fledgeling outfit still developing their sound, and cruising past a point where many the lesser bands have peaked.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/bigbadbollocks

Prydein – Loud Pipes: (save lives) – 2nd opinion

After reading through the Shite ‘n’ Onions review of Prydein’s Loud Pipes I was mighty intrigued. This sounded like a combination of two of my favorites styles of music; Celtic folk-punk and Classic Rock. And although the band does dip a toe into the pools of funk, ska, rockabilly, metal, and of course, Celtic music, they are at their heart a rock band.

The band, Prydein, is comprised of the bass, drums, and guitar line-up with the addition of not one, but two Great Highland Bagpipes players, and, as the disc title may suggest, the pipes are very predominantly featured throughout this release, taking a break on only two of the tracks, both uniquely arranged traditionals; the swinging rockabilly of ‘The Wild Rover’, and a laid-back, strolling ‘Nancy Whiskey’, with the latter tagging-in the tin whistle for ornamentation.

The CD runs the gamut from these traditional songs to a cover of Slade’s ‘Run Runaway’ (that almost smiles in pride of itself, and at what it has become,) to the delicate weaving of ‘Aria’s Waltz’, and wrapping the whole package up with a medley called ‘Stairway to Scotland’ that takes ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Scotland the Brave’ to a place more suited to crowd-surfing than funereal melancholy.

With seven of the eleven tracks being instrumentals, it is clear that the pipes do the talking for the lion’s share of the CD. But they a do have a lot to say, occasionally trading off licks with a lead guitar, with the band’s rhythm section provides a rock-steady forum for them to say it.

Most impressively, for me, anyways, is just how everything seems to fit together. Each tune/song gets a unique treatment from the band, but nothing seems unnatural or forced. All elements come together in a very organic mixture that covers a lot of ground but still remains securely in rock’s embrace.

My personal fave: Probably “The $17.00 Red Head.” It’s snaking shuffle-beat, a lazy, urban-groovin’ bass line and some sweet wah-wah guitar set an unlikely stage for a dueling-bagpipe melody that just keeps on building.

But, since this disc in currently out on iTunes, don’t take my word for it, grab a free, 30-second sample and see if you can sit perfectly still for it. I couldn’t.

Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.myspace.com/prydein1
http://www.prydein.com/

Barleyjuice: Bonny Prince Barley

“Bonny Prince Barley” is the 4th full-lenght release from Philly’s Barleyjuice and I’m happy to say it’s very much in the vein of their previous 3 releases – classic rock on a whiskey bender in a spit and sawdust Philly Irish bar. I’m also very glad that the band has continued to stay on the track they set on “Six Yanks” and continue to focus on originals – though I do love the Celtic twist given to their cover of “London Calling”.
http://www.myspace.com/barleyjuice
http://www.barleyjuice.com/

The Deans: One

Blood brothers Gavin (guitar) and Gary (bass) Dean along with their blues brother Gary Keon are a young band (ages 17 through 19) from Athenry, Galway. Being from Athenry you would expect tradition Irish music, right? Wrong, these guys have the blues like you wouldn’t believe. Think of fellow Irish man, Rory Gallagher or maybe Johnny Winters. I’ve a feeling Rory is looking down from heaven and he has a smile on his face. Thanks to Lee Templeton over at http://www.onenightatmcsorleys.com/ for passing on to me.
http://www.myspace.com/deansrockandrollcankickers
http://www.thedeans.ie/

Can Kickers: Live at Lavazone

Can Kickers are a 3 piece folk-punk outfit coming outta New London, CT. Recorded live in Philly in 2007 and live is the best way to experience Can Kickers in all their stripped down fiddle, banjo, and washboard lo-fi glory. In a different age these guys would be hobos playing the campfires and railroad boxcars of the American great depression.
http://www.myspace.com/cankickers
http://www.cankickers.com/

The Dirges: When Laughing Got You Killed

The Dirges are a loud sleazy punk’n’roll band from California – infact they are the house band of LA’s infamous Molly Malone’s – which as you all know as the birth place of Flogging Molly. So do The Dirges sound like Flogging Molly? Yes and no. Sure they are Punk’n’Irish but clones of FM – no way. It’s much more sleazy rock’n’roll guitars with a love of The Pogues (Dirty Old Town and Jessie James are covered and the band pay tribute to himself in The Ballad of Shane MacGowan). Closest comparison I can think of is a more Irish sounding Swingin Utters or a much more punky Filthy Thieving Bastards. Good stuff.
http://www.myspace.com/thedirges

The Lorelei: Home EP

From the way north of Scotland come The Lorelei who originally formed in 1990 and after 2 albums and 7 years on the high and low roads of England and Scotland in a little yellow transit van the band split………………until 2005 when after a chance meeting of original founding members Jonny and Beefy the wheels got in motion and a great and much missed band were backed. The 6 track Home EP is the first offspring of the reunion. I would describe The Lorelei as fast trashy indie guitar rock meets fast trashy Celtic folk. The Waterboys on crystal meth if you will.
And remember if it’s not Scottish it’s crap!
http://www.thelorelei.co.uk/
http://www.myspace.com/theloreleiprogression

The Broken Shillelaghs: The Broken Shillelaghs

The Broken Shillelaghs, from Brooklawn, NJ, are a 5-piece Irish musical group featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, accordion, tin-whistle, and percussion. I believe this is their first release. Though I honestly think the bhoys here have managed to squash every Irish-American cliché onto one disk – the bands name, the cartoon leprechaun, the IRA mural on the cover, the thanking of every Irish tavern and AOH division between the Hudson and Delaware – Yet despite this (or because of maybe) the 13 or so contempary Irish standards played in an upbeat Irish meets pub-rock is bloody enjoyable. It also cool to see Flogging Molly getting respect as the band cover ‘Devils Dance Floor’ along with more standard covers of material originally by the Pogues and The Wolfe Tones ect.
As the count down to Paddys day starts, if your in the New Jersey area on the big day go see these guys, you’ll have a beer soaked great time.
http://www.myspace.com/thebrokenshillelaghs/

The Porters: Anywhere But Home

I was familiar with The Porters from their 2001 debut, ‘A Tribute to Arthur Guinness,’ which was essentially a CD of rocked up traditional standards. As such, however, it failed to leave any lasting impression on me aside from containing a couple of fairly respectable covers, (“Irish Soldier Laddie” and “Four Green Fields” being the ones that stick out the most in my, granted, overly-perforated memory.)

In any case, it was with only minimal enthusiasm that I decided to sample their latest release, ‘Anywhere But Home’ while trolling iTunes for new music. Quite a surprise, here, as this whole disc proved to be a confident, and welcome addition to my Paddy-punk rotation.

Musically, the band appears driven primarily by the guitar and accordion, but is peppered liberally with mandolin and whistle as well as an occasional fiddle. Also, still present are the gruff, gravelly vocals from the first CD, but practiced into a naturalness with a result far more listenable and sounding somewhere between those of St. Bushmill’s Choir, The Skels and Popes-era MacGowan.

Although the band hails from the Düsseldorf, Germany area, one cannot detect any betrayal of this; all lyrics are in perfect English, and without accent, (unlike a fellow German paddy-punk band’s ‘Foggy Dew’ rendition, “Vas down ze glen vun Easter morn…”) Nor is there any novelty act stuff or a German-influence hybrid effect in the music. Just straight ahead, energetic, Irish-folk-punk sounds. And, after repeated listens, a number of tracks stood out on the this CD and not a dog to be found.

True, there is no major innovation or departure from formula, or anything we haven’t heard before from others in the genre, but ‘Anywhere But Home’ is a strong release in the vein of Greenland Whalefishers and The Swaggering Growlers, and, with 14 tracks and clocking in at just under an hour, its Paddy-Punk-Per-Penny value should also earn it your average bean counter’s nod of approval.

Grade: The Porters’ ‘Anywhere But Home’ comes in on The Toler Scale™ with a grade of a solid, clockwork “B+” for above average, which translates to your average listener as “worth the purchase” and ”worthy of repeated plays.”

But don’t take my word for it, check ‘em out first on iTunes, and dowload the whole disc for $9.99!

Review: Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel
http://www.theporters.de/
http://www.myspace.com/theporters/

Irish Stew of Sindidun: So Many Words

The first thing I noticed when i first cracked open the plastic, tossed the CD in my CD player and let the first strains come to my ears was 3 things: 1) that there is no electric guitar (except for one of the songs) only an acoustic. 2) The singer (Bojan Petroviæ)’s voice is different. It’s the voice of a Serbian who just learned English a week ago and to supplement the accent, he had an Irish language instructor. 3) the band play with such energy that the absence of a crashing electric guitar is not noticed. For many songs, Bojan’s voice accompanies the acoustic for the first part of the song and then the rest of the band joins in. Bojan’s somber Serbian accent renders track with needed severity in some cases and an almost humorous irony. At the risk of being horribly incorrect, I think they sound like Siobhan, acoustic but still punky. There are only a few tracks that stand out which make the price a little too much even if (like me) you gotta have’em. We start off with a nice upbeat little track called McGee’s Daughter. The whistle/fiddle/drums combined with that ever prominent voice provide a sharp, fun melody. The next track, Why, asks the eternal question in a sad tone which doesn’t make it any less of a great track. We skip ahead to Patrick Malone, a dark ambiance around a rousing song about a man and his problems with the drink. We skip again, to my favorite track on the album, Stout. The acoustic guitar and fiddle anchor a rollicking song with an awesome chorus. “Fuckin’ stout, fuckin’ stout. I’ll drink all night, and I don’t care if it’s wrong or right, stout, fuckin’ stout, I drink all night and then in the morning I’m so fuckin’ drunk!”, awesome track. The next track of note is a reworking of the classic, Black & Tans. The lyrics bring a smile to your lips as Bojan slurs tries to pronounce the complicated phrases and the jig-like energy takes some of the usual sadness which so often surrounds other covers of this track. Right behind it comes Skibereen, the song starts lament-like as Bojan’s somber Serbian accent renders the sadness of having to leave Ireland until the guitar, fiddle and banjo join in to provide a backbeat. All in all, while I love this CD, there probably aren’t that many others who would shell out the copious amounts of cash(almost $30!) required to obtain this unless they really like it. I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t already love ’em.

Review: Bigmac
http://www.myspace.com/irishstewofsindidun/

Prydein: Loud Pipes

When Motorhead first started out in the ‘70’s there was a comment made – a compliment actually – that if Motorhead moved in next door to you that your lawn would die – I keep thinking of that comment after listening to “Loud Pipe’s”. Though I have a feeling that if Prydein and their 2 bagpipers moved in next door to you not only would your lawn die but they would finish off your trees and maybe any domestic animals with in a block (a compliment and also a warning to cat owners actually). These guys are so loud with a massive guitar sound (think Malcolm Young riffing on classic AC/DC) and dueling bagpipes. The title of the CD “Loud Pipe’s” is misleading. I would have gone with “Loud Guitars and Really Bloody Loud Pipes”.

http://www.prydein.com/

Various: Paddy Rock Vol.3

Hats off to Paddy Rock’s John Bowels (again) for putting together another great compilation of the finest Punk and Celtic Rock. And as with his previous comps he’s managed to surprise me with a host of fine new bands even to my ears and of course some great bands well known over in Shite’n’Onions world and a couple of tracks I actually wanted to use on Shite’n’Onions V3. Highlights’ include Catgut Mary of course, the Finns Fury powerful cover of ‘The Auld Triangle’, and then new and reinvigorated Pubcrawlers. This has inspired me to get the finger outta me own arse and start pulling together Shite’n’Onions V3 – incase John nabs the reaminder of my tracks for his V4. Copies of Paddy Rock Vol. 3 are available here http://www.cafepress.com/paddyrock.165669694. Pick it up and help keep a great radio show on the air.

http://www.paddyrock.com/

Pete Berwick: Ain’t no Train Outta Nashville

Chicago born Pete Berwick started out his career in the early eighties fronting various Chicago punk bands before moving south and absorbing the sounds of his adopted new home town of Nashville. Combining both the big city punk influence and the country sounds of Nashville, Berwick has made one of the best pieces of American rock’n’roll with attitude I’ve ever heard. Think Steve Earle, meets The Georgia Satellites meets Chuck Berry while the lyrics bring small town Midwest America alive very much in the way Springsteen brought working class Jersey to life. If your looking for a perfect piece of Americana then this is it.

http://www.peteberwick.net/

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