Whisky Chaser: Rantin’ & Rovin
“Just as you thought things couldn’t get any wackier along comes an off-the-wall music combo which looks set to give Scottish folk music a whole new meaning: Celtic rock band Whisky Chaser.”
“It was in the summer of 2004 that vocalist-guitarist John “Fanny” Adams got together with drummer Wal, vocalist-penny whistler Klaire and vocalist-guitarist Will over a few pints, and began to experiment with music of a decidedly folkish feel. At first they leaned toward the Irish side of Celtic, but with the arrival of bagpipes-bohdran-mandolin supremo, Stripey McDoog, and bassist-vocalist James, the band’s focus shifted North of the Border.”
Sadly, Will has since gone on to other pastures but the core of the band remains and bravely carries on.
Anyway, the disc is really a cover of other tunes, some being traditional. There’s nothing you may not have heard elsewhere but who doesn’t do that now? I mean, everyone covers somethin’ now and again.
On to the disc then…
At the start you’re greeted by the spirited pipes of Doog “Stripey” Grant into a jaunty version of “Scotland The Brave” which leads to a rousing cover of “Leaving Of Liverpool”. The oft done “Whiskey In The Jar” is next with a punkish slant featuring Klaire on the whistle followed by a heart-felt rendition of “The Skye Boat Song”.
This could well be the signature song of the disc if not for the nicely done “Wild Mountain Thyme” and “The Torch” ably done here with the afore mentioned Will and Klaire on vocals. This is a nice change a pace and bridge for the disc.
From here we get to the faithfully done Dropkick Murphys “Heroes Of Our Past” which takes us to “Amazing Grace” which always leaves one with a tear in the eye as it’s done here even with a bit of an edge. The disc wraps up with a nice version of “The Wild Rover”.
So, I know what you’re thinkin’…who the hell is Whisky Chaser and how the feck did they make the Shite n Onions top ten?
Well, I’ll tell yas…
Simply put…heart and a sound everyone likes. There’s nothing new here, no argument there but they’re here because they play with conviction and they love what they do. And while the CD is good, their real strength is in their live show. They’ve played with some damned good bands, most notibly Neck. They pull out the stops each and every night no matter how big the crowd and give it all they’ve got.
They’re what most of us like in a band and they do a bang up job doing what they do. They’re like us given what they like, the way they play and they entertain us and what more can we ask for, really?
If you get the chance to see this lot live, go ahead and do it. You won’t be cheated. They’re great folk that put their hearts into it and it’s definately worth it.
“One thing’s for certain…the image of the lone piper will never be quite the same once you’ve seen Whisky Chaser explode into a mad blur of tartan, kilts, sporrans and bagpipes.” Having seen them, I can attest to that!
Rum Rebellion: Crusin For A Boozin
“Crusin For A Boozin” is the first full length album from Rum Rebellion, an “Oirish” band from Portland, Oregon. The first thing I’d like to point out are the amount of original songs on this album. Nine out of eleven! There’s obviously some talented songwriters in this gang of ruffians, no doubt. Then there’s the music… Damn! For only being together for roughly a year and a half, these guys must have some weird telepathic thing going on here…The tin whistle, guitar, fiddle, and bouzouki seem to flow together like a musical stream of whiskey, backed up with a solid set of drumbeats and bass lines. The vocals accompany the music perfectly, and sound as if Popeye was clutching an empty bottle of rum instead of a can of spinach! (Spinach is bad for you nowadays!) Another thing I’d like to mention are the amount of sea shanties! I think every track makes at least once reference to something nautical, so at least you know this reviewer is happy!
Speaking of Rum Rebellion, As you may or may not know, the band got the the name from the Rum Rebellion of 1808. It was the only successful (if only temporarily so) armed take over of government in Australia’s recorded history. The rebellion was precipitated by the Governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, who attempted to normalize trading conditions by prohibiting the use of spirits (Rum) as payment for commodities. Bligh was aiming to reduce the power of the rum merchants and the New South Wales Corps, which had a role in the trade. These groups resented his interference and the quarrel built to a military rebellion on January 26, 1808. The group of mutineers included John MacArthur as one of the leading personalities. Bligh was arrested by George Johnston of the New South Wales Corps, who took control of the colony. Bligh was held for over a year and when he agreed to leave for England, he immediately attempted to return. Stupid bastard.
Lucky for me, I have been able to witness this band start from scratch. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen them live a few times, (Some I can’t remember… like cough*opening for the Tossers*cough!) and they sound just as good live as they do on record. I’ve also heard them absolutely nail a version of “Dirty Old Town” on the radio. I’ve seen them on street corners busking away like madmen. So let me mention that I am seriously impressed with “Crusin For A Boozin”
100% Pirate approved!
1. Anchors Aweigh!
2. Raise Yer Glasses
3. Boots & Bottles
4. Beer Run
5. The Rusty Cannonball
6. Drifting Down The River
8. Drink With The Devil
9. Ramblers Road
10. Drunken Sailor
11. Dragons Tooth Jig
Go get this album! By the way if you’re in the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, check them out live!
12/31/06 @ SE House Show
1/8/07 @ Tiny Tavern (EUGENE)
1/11/07 @ House Show
1/12/07 @ the Paragon
1/13/07 @ Comet Tavern (SEA)
1/27/07 @ Diablo’s (EUGENE)
G.T.M.: Bitter and Twisted
G.M.T. are a 3 piece metal band with punkish influences. Guitarist Torme and bass player McCoy (the M. & the T.) are veterans of the 80’s UK metal scene – both were members of Ian Gillan’s mega successful early 80’s solo project. Torme later joined Ozzy’s band. Guy (the G.) was drummer for The Business. The band is tight, raw and LOUD – think Cream meets Hendrix meets Motorhead meets The Sex Pistols. Not really S’n’O material here (though Torme is from Dublin and the instrumental “Deireadh an Samhradh” has strong Celtic influences) but if you looking for something LOUD and hard rocking you won’t get much more LOUD or rockin then this.
JD and the Longfellows: Confessions
I’ll be honest I had to Google Duncan Goodhew to figure out who the hell JD was singing about at first, but damn that is quite the resemblance, which I could relate to. Many years ago when I was fit and took care of myself, people used to say I looked like Ed Norton in American History X (more like the fat skin I’m thinking – editor) . I have a great tale about that, but that’s for another day we are here to talk about this latest in music which I can’t categorize. The lines of what’s what genre of music blurs more and more, which I like because it confuses a lot of folks.
The cover confuses me because it doesn’t really look as the music feels; it seems like a guy running from a bad situation to an even worse one, naked. Kind of doom and gloom if you will. But the music inside is anything but, it is mostly lighthearted drinking music and songs that tell great tales. This is all wrapped together by some of the best music to come off that little island empire in a while.
This isn’t just the best damned drinking album of the year; it’s the best damned CD to play before you go out drinking to pump yourself up album of the year! That is just as good if not better, if you want to pump yourself up for say a great night of tying one on with your best mates, or feel like you want to pick yourself up because your drinking by yourself again you lonely bastard, this is the CD for all of you. I guess putting this in with the drinking music group is going to really discredit the unbelievable talent these musicians present. Drinking bands usually sound great while your drinking, but any studio album they do is not as great. JD and the Longfellow’s blow that stereotype right out of the water, they sound so good on this CD I want them to chart on Billboard and win Grammy’s!
Are there any reasons why you shouldn’t buy this CD? Any little quibbles as to why you should hold on to you’re measly little 14 bucks instead of buying this masterpiece? Not a one especially with the service CD Baby gives you. One of my favorite CD’s of the year for sure.
The Rag and Bone Men: EP
I don’t know a lot ‘bout The Rag and Bone Men. The contacted me through myspace. The packaging the CD came in was postmarked Portland OR. The CD and sleeve are very DIY. The 5 tracks on the EP are reminiscent of the anarcho-folk of Mischief Brew crossed with the klezmer/ gypsy of Portland’s much missed The Domolites later stuff. If you like your folk RAW then check these guys out.
V/A: Paddy Rock Radio Vol.2
Hats off again to John Bowles of Paddy Rock Radio for pulling together another fine comp. I’m always amazed how John will always manage to find 2 or 3 really great bands that I’ve never heard – Meisce, The Sandcarvers and The Vandon Arms being the new standouts to me. Of course there are also lots of bands that are old friends of Shite’n’Onions here – Blaggards. Sharky Doyles, The Killigans and many more. 15 great tacks in all. Check it out, I think you’ll be finding new friends as well and getting reacquainted with some old ones.
Black Friday: Live at Maker
Flogging Molly is an obvious huge influence on Black Friday – the bands name of course and 4 of the 12 songs on ‘Live at Maker” are Flogging Molly covers. Combinations of MacGowan and The Popes/Pogues are the other big influence with 3 covers (5 if you count “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Star of the County Down”). The Clash & The Mahones (great version of “Drunken Lazy Bastard”) are also covered. “Go to Go” is the only original (I thinks it’s an original anyway) and it’s a great one that isn’t out of place on a collection of classics the band covered. Just next time some more originals if the rest are as good.
Süvöltő: My Sun, My Sun (CD Single)
Here’s something completely different from the Celtic scene – Hungarian power-folk. But really is it that different? – apart from they signing in Hungarian, we’ve got Clash inspired punk-rock and a love of The Pogues and Dropkick Murphys and bagpipes of course – this time the Hungarian variation (and you though bagpipes were Scottish). I’m told a full CD is to be recorded and I’m looking forward to hearing that.
Street Dogs: Fading America Dream
“Fading America Dream” is the third release in four years from Boston’s (though now LA based) Street Dogs. While I thought the first Street Dogs release was a street fighting punk classic, it’s follow up “Back to the World”, while good, fell short of the lofty heights of number 1. “Fading America Dream” like “Back to the World” is a strong punk release – very much in the vein of Dropkick Murphys (Mike McColgan’s era of course), Rancid or The Bouncing Souls – but still no “Savin Hill”. Fans of Celtic punk should note “Shards of Light” with Flogging Molly’s Matt Hensley and James Fearnley of The Pogues helping out.
The Causeway Giants: The Causeway Giants
Here we have the 7 track, self titled, self released, debut CD from The Causeway Giants – an 7 piece Celtic rock/punk outfit from Syracuse, NY. The Causeway Giants are tight, skillful and the songs are strong and most importantly it sounds like they are having fun. The two biggest influences I hear here are early Tossers and The Great Big Sea (especially in the vocals). The Pogues also factor into the sound with a true to form cover of “Dirty Old Town” (so true to form that I’m wondering why they even bothered). The best two tracks are “Rothsead” and “Give the Fiddler a Dram” with lots of Charlie Daniels goes Celtic, maniac fiddling.
The Mahones: Take No Prisoners
I’ve a bone to pick with Finny McConnell and The Mahones. 5 years!!! Yeah, 5 years. It took 5 bloody years to get a new release out. Who do they think they are? Def Leppard? When they swing through Boston on their support tour for “Take No Prisoners” one of ‘em at least must be missing a limb.
“Take No Prisoners” is a grand release, more punk rock then previous and especially on the opener and title track and on “Out of Control”. Trad., covers “Nancy Whiskey” and the very trashy “Whiskey in the Jar” are destined to be live favorites and “The Amsterdam Song” is classic Mahones very much in the vein of “Drunken Dirty Bastard” or “Drunken Night in Dublin” (it’s a drinking and debauchery song to boot!) Also check out the “A Little Bit of Love” a beautiful alt-country duet with Damhnait Doyle.
An Dochas: An Dochas
Are all traditional bands created equal? Are they all there for background music while we have a pint in our favorite Irish pub? Do you have to be over fifty to go see a trad band live?
I happen to be under the impression that a lot of the readers of this site are here for the more punk and rock and roll music that it covers which is fine, I’m big into just about every aspect of punk, hardcore, rock, but also the real Irish side of this genre, traditional music. With every band and it’s brother rocking out trad songs and doing revved up jigs and reels, sometimes it makes me wonder if we’re not forgetting something, our roots in the traditional Irish music. Throwing a fiddle in with an electric guitar is cool and all, but ever heard a solo that actually drives you to tears. There is such heart and soul in the instruments you see up on stage getting wailed on during Dropkick Murphy’s Rocky Road to Dublin, but you wouldn’t know it the way it’s thrown at you through distortion pedals, amps and speakers like it was just so much more noise to fill your head. There is something to be said for slowing down and taking the time to listen to the song the way it was meant to be played.
I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy for you the reader to go out there and just dive right into the first band that comes along, there are some that are horrible at it, but somehow get record deals, and there are some that aren’t going to be your style. I do have one suggestion that really you can’t go wrong with is An Dochas.
With all the energy and drive these folks put into there music, how they aren’t selling gold records is beyond me! They are what most new agers like to call a world beat, but don’t let that scare you, they really do kick out some great tunes that make you want to put on you’re jacket, get in the car and fly to the nearest session, grab a Guinness and sit and relax. It’s great for relaxing reading a book, and as I have found the perfect company on a long trip in a car. Dragon Fly, the album I have is all instrumental, which I know drives some folks nuts, but I think there is so much going on, to me it feels like everyone in the band is singing to me and I love the way every time I hear a song, there is a new voice to listen to.
Usually I have at least a few problems with every CD I review, but this one I have a hard time finding faults. There are a few nit-picks, one being that some songs are long and repetitive, but then that’s the way some of these songs are written. So just find them online and buy the CD and you won’t be disappointed.
Belfast Andi: All That Glitters
Belfast born Andriu MacGabhann is better known in his new home base of Montreal as Belfast Andi. Andi’s latest release is a collection of both traditional and modern Irish folk ballads, with both originals and well know standards and a couple of Tom Waits and The Who covers given the Celtic treatment. Though I would have liked to have heard a few Montreal French influences here – maybe on the next? All the same I think comparisons to a certain Irish balladeer from Newbridge, Co. Kildare are in order here.
The Pigs: Oink
Kind of an 80’s MTV revival here. Electronic power pop with distinctively 80’s sounding vocals, hooks galore and catchy as hell but definitely not S’n’O material.
Life of Riley: Days Away from Live
Based on the bands name I was expecting Riley to be Irish or at least an Irish influenced band. Not at all, it’s more like the stuff you’d hear on “mainstream” alternative radio – post grung hard rock. It’s all very good and if MTV picks these guys up then they will be massive but it’s not real S’n’O material.
Needfire: Cat In A Cannon
“Ghosts of Usually when I listen to a new Celtic rock band for the first time its pretty clear who the influences are – the usual suspects of The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly. Not so here, I hear fellow Texans and progressive metal icons ‘Kings X’. The huge guitar riff, the powerful technical drumming ala Jerry Gaskil or Neil Peart and Beatles style vocal harmonies so perfected by Kings X. So, what makes this Celtic? Well layered on top of the progressive metal foundations we have highland bagpipes, fiddles and mandolins. Certainly a unique and original sound. Progressive-Celtic-Fusion-Metal anyone?
BibleCodeSundays: Ghosts of Our Past
“Ghosts of Our Past” was one of my 3 most anticipated CD releases of this year, the others being the new Mahones CD (come on Finny, where’s my copy?) and The Hit The Bottle Boys upcoming CD release.
So, now that I’ve had a chance to give it a serious listen, I hear you ask does it live up to expectations. Absolutely, it’s even better then I could ever expected based on the mp3’s and myspace samples I’ve already heard.
So then, what does it sound like? An Irish/Trad./Rock crossover with a Punk edge and the pop/new wave sensibilities of say Elvis Costello. The songs lyrics are very much in the narrative tradition of the Irish ballad or even Springsteen or Steve Earle (who’s Dixieland is covered), with the focus on the downcast, the outcast and the outlaw. Think Elvis Costello meets The Pogues or more correctly Elvis Costello’s kid brother meets The Pogues – Ronan MacManus (vocals and guitars) is in fact the kid brother of Declan MacManus A.K.A. Elvis Costello and Andy Nolan (accordion) has played in Shane MacGowans Popes and Spider Stacys post-Pogues project.
Best song? All of ‘em. But, if you’re really going to twist me arm then it’s either, “Bang, Band. You’re Dead” or “Whitey” about Boston’s long missing villainous Irish gangster.
Street Dogs: Back to the World (a 2nd opinion)
Yes I know I’m late to the plate with this review of Back to the World, but I certainly have a fresh take on this CD. After rifling through the racks at Newbury Comics this afternoon I found that there really isn’t anything new out there for us lovers of the shamrock rock. So I grabbed the new Street Dogs, because I liked there Savin Hill full length and there two EP’s they put out, however there was a slight problem with all the there stuff I bought when I saw them live for the first time at a Flogging Molly show in Boston. The problem I found with them was there lack of material. What do I mean by that? Well the problem popped it’s head on this album as well, they are a phenomenal group, and Mike was everything I loved about the Dropkick Murphy’s, but maybe they may have wanted to expand their song book before pushing this CD as a new album.
Most the tracks here are somewhere else, on another CD, somewhere on an EP or on Savin Hill their first full length. I’m a little disappointed by this, but I didn’t let it get in the way of enjoying what was new, and there were a few really great songs. Before I catch crap for this, I do realize this was a major release as opposed to the smaller more local releases they have come out with over the past few years. That’s why when I looked over the track list in the store I bought it in I weighed the decision to buy it in support of the band or just pass it up until something else came along. Well I bought it; I want to see these guys do well.
As far as the songs on the CD as they are, they were produced very well. This band is incredibly tight and Mike I swear turns every band he’s into gold! The band has a sound that the Dropkick Murphy’s should have stuck with, not their slow change to a traditional Irish music cover band. Its funny how most Irish rock bands start with little original music, and rock out trad songs to fill time in sets, and here’s the Dropkicks going in the opposite direction. But the Street Dogs struck out as a rock band and I‘m sure they are going to make it big. Just as long as their sitting around writing more songs when they are not touring we need more of the Street Dogs!
Review – Therover413
The Ceili Family: Tooraloo
From Germany comes The Ceili Family with Tooraloo, an extended CDEP (6 tracks + 3 bonus) of Pogues and Christy Moore inspired Folk-Rock. The Ceili Family are so inspired by Christy and Shane that 6 of the tracks here are Pogues covers played in a very Pogues style and the 2 Christy Moore covers are also played in a very Pogues style. The one original is similar to The Popes (solo) or Terry Woods “The Bucks” and is very good indeed. On the next release I hope they flip to doing 8 originals and 1 cover.
Jackdaw: Brilliant, Sad and Guilty
Buffalo, New York. What comes to mind when one thinks of Buffalo? Well, to me it’s cold as fuck, Gilbert Perreault, Danny Gare, Pat LaFontaine, Clint Malarchuk and Tim Horton. Mmmmm…TimBits…
Ahem…hmm…hmm…there’s also Jackdaw.
Jackdaw, that brick-throwing Celtic rock band from Buffalo, New York, have been making fans and critics alike in Buffalo happy since 2000 and really deserve to have a bigger push.
The band is made up of life long friends Tim Byrnes, on guitars, banjo, mandolin, piano, and vocals and George (no last name given) on drums and percussion. Joining them are Joe Davies on fiddle, Tommy Jordan, bass, vocals and backing vocals and David A. Moore who is a virtual one man band playing everything from accordion, uilleann pipes, highland pipes, tin whistle, low whistle, button box, English concertina, hurdy gurdy and piano. He also adds his voice as to the vocals as well.
This two disc release is a compilation of previously released tracks and is nicely seasoned with some live material. Almost all of the tracks are original lyrics so that counts for a lot. There’s something for everyone on this release and it isn’t hard to find something to like.
Some tunes will remind you of other bands most notably The Clash and others as well…Tom Petty, The Band? Big shoes to be sure but Jackdaw pulls it off quite well. They remain true to their roots throughout but their influences are there, varied as they are. They don’t stick to the “formula” of the genre but display a nice versatility in what they play and that makes them even better. Jackdaw are a well-rounded outfit.
The themes of the songs are varied. Some of the tunes that caught my ear were “Maggie”, “Black Cat Luck”, “Bagpipes at Midnight”, “Nala”, “Proof Rock”, “Pigtail Man”, “Paddy”, “Something About Nothing”, “Drunken Piper/Cork Hill” and “Broken Cans”
The live tracks included on this release are a nice touch. They give you a glimpse of what a Jackdaw gig appears to be. Loud, raucous and fun. The only thing missing is the crowd at your side. These I’ll bring a smile to yer maw. These are pretty cool. I love the live show.
Brilliant, Sad and Guilty? Yep…Jackdaw is that on all counts. This release is brilliant, some of the songs might make you sad and they’re guilty of putting together some damned good stuff. Jackdaw fans will no doubt want to add this to their collection and those with even a passing interest will enjoy it as well.
Review by The Black Stuff
Casey Neill Band: Memory Against Forgetting
You will enjoy the music of Casey Neill. At least it sure looks that way…There seems to be a Casey Neill song for almost everybody. All you need to do is catch one of his shows. Everything from mohawks and leather jackets on one side of the room, to pony tails and Birkenstock on the other. I’ve seen a few Casey Neill gigs, and I can honestly tell you, I have seen that happen. Somehow, Mr. Neill has danced across that tightrope for some time now.
Raised in Brooklyn, NY, Casey moved out to Portland, Oregon in the early 90’s. It’s probably a good thing he did, because there used to be a great little dive in Portland, called the East Avenue Tavern. (RIP) If you knew anything about Celtic folk, that’s where you’d be. Casey Neill was there one night, and thanks to spilling a beer into the lap of Johnny Cunningham’s girlfriend, the two became fast friends & collaborators. (One hell of an introduction, don’t ya think Casey?) In fact, it was Johnny Cunningham who encouraged Casey to use a more electric approach to his songs, and everyone form Jello Biafra, to Steve Earle have applauded his efforts.
“Memory Against Forgetting” is an album revisiting the past 10 years of Casey’s work. these 13 tracks cover everything from punk, folk, Americana to Celtic music. There’s a few remastered songs from “Riffraff” an early folk-punk album that’s been out of print for ages. there’s a few traditional numbers in ‘Kitty” and “Paddy’s Lament”, (with fiddler Kevin Burke) to some absolutely outstanding original material such as “Angola” “Radio Montana” and “Cod fisher”, a song I honestly believe is the pinnacle of Casey’s work.
I’m quite glad Mr. Neill decided to move to Portland all those years ago. I’ve been able to see some amazing talent because of it. Seems like the guy has played with every top notch Scottish & Irish musician to ever step foot in the United States. A few weeks ago, Casey Neill opened up for The Tossers. I had quite a few excited folks come up to me and ask who he was, and where he came from. I hope more people in our little world of Shite’n’Onions tune into his work and check it out, because I rank it right up there with the best.
Review by: Barnacle Brian Gillespie
Casey Neill Band: Live On 11th Street
“I agree, that it’s ‘Rock and/or roll music with some twangy geetar, Scottish fiddling, and piano ballads. Drunk and tough, except for the mushy moments.” Casey Neill
“Live On 11th Street” was the last time Casey Neill performed with Fiddler/Producer, Johnny Cunningham. On December 15th, 2003. Johnny passed away, sending shock waves across the entire world of folk music. With that in mind, you’re somewhat heavy hearted upon first listen to “Live On 11th Street”… that is until the top notch quality of the recording, or the stellar musicianship/lyrics, or the wisecracking Mr. Cunningham in between tracks. By the third song you realize, you’re hearing something special. One of those magical nights that are almost never recorded, let alone properly released as an album. By the 5th song, you’re covered in goosebumps, and the hairs on the back of your neck are standing on end. Between songs, as the crowd cheers, You ask yourself, “Damn! Why wasn’t I in New York City that night.” By the sixth song the combination of Johnny’s fiddle and Jon Spurnley’s beautiful piano sends a shiver down your spine so fierce, you have to take a break from the album, and simply call up a loved one just to wish them well.
Upon returning, you examine the album, a simple red cardboard cover saying: Casey Neill Band – Live On 11th Street. The other side contains only the track listing. There are no pictures, no lyrics, no special thanks. It’s not needed. The album speaks for itself. By the middle of the 9th song, you realize Mr. Cunningham is absolutely hilarious as he torments a very (trying to be) serious sounding Casey between songs. A minute or two go by… It’s around this time you congratulate yourself on purchasing such a fine album. You begin to think about all the live albums you’ve heard over the years. How does “Live On 11th Street” stack up? Pretty damn good, but you have to replay that last track. You were in such a deep thought, you missed the majority of the song. (Damn, I hate that!)
After replaying the album about a half dozen times, you simply pass out on the couch and awake the next morning feeling so refreshed, you decide to call in sick to work and take a drive through the woods, and reflect on things that should matter, and all that petty shit that shouldn’t. Only music can make you feel this way, and the music recorded on this album happens to hit the nail on the head, as you suddenly you crack up laughing…Johnny Cunningham you will be missed, brother.
Look for Casey Neill’s latest album “Brooklyn Bridge” later this year. (The last album produced by Johnny Cunningham)
Review by “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie
Damien Dempsey: Shots
Damien Dempsey is the hottest shit in music in Ireland today – with an platinum CD and Hot Press and RTE fawning all over him. I just sent a weekend listening to the CD and the best description I could come up with is a sort of urban Luka Bloom for the 21st century with a touch of Jeff Buckley (more for the cool factor). A contemporary balladeer with a dark edge and coming from the very working class suburb of Donaghmede on Dublin’s northside, Dempsey lyrics reflect that world, a world mostly by passed by the Celtic Tiger or sometimes even shit on by the aforementioned tiger as it fly’s over head in it’s private helicopter. While Damien’s heavy Northside accent might be off putting to some US listeners (and quite a few people on Dublin’s posher Southside) it certainly is distinctive.
Mischief Brew: Smash the Windows
Mischief Brew’s ‘Smash the Windows’ is a first class release if ever I heard one. Americana-Folk-Punk. Think, Tom Waits meets Bob Dylan. Stripped down and raw. As authentic as it gets. The musical equivalent of a case of dynamite but just a touch more dangerous.
Barley Juice: Six Yanks
Hat’s off to Barley Juice on the release of their third CD and especially to them for really stepping up the game on ‘Six Yanks’ – while the first two Barley Juice CD’s were might fine releases, the band wasn’t writing any of its own stuff – just covering familiar traditional standards. On ‘Six Yanks” the band takes the plunge and has written the majority of the music on the release. So how does it stack up you ask? Very well, very well indeed, and like their previous choices of covers they are upbeat, energetic and irrelevant. Though my personal favorite is a reworking of Robbie Burns ‘A mans an a man for all that” as “A bands a band for all that”; a tribute to the great rock’n’rollers – Jagger, Richards, Lennon, Strummer, Costello, MacGowan et all – maybe the perfect Barley Juice anthem?
NECK: Everybody’s Welcome at the Hooley!
A Hooley is a huge Irish party and with “Welcome…” Neck are clearly stating everyone is welcome at a Neck show – Black, White, Brown and even Green (how ’bout Orange? Leeson?). “Welcome….” was recorded as a response to some trouble Neck had with boneheads in Germany and the US. It’s all very punkie but not the best think Neck has every recorded. The b-side is a new version of “On The Night (That) The Shamrock Was Drowned” especially for all the Neck fanatics and a newish recording of their instrumental ‘Shite’n’Onions’ (familiar?) previously only available on “Shite’n’Onions” volume 1″
Flatfoot 56: Knuckles Up
I’m trying to figure out what the drummer here is using for drum sticks – baseball bats? And the guitar? Is it strung with barbed wire strings? I’ve seen these guys live and at least one of ’em is close to 7 foot tall so I don’t doubt I could be right. I would describe a Flatfoot as a straight ahead Oi/Hardcore punk band with massive highland pipes (though the piper is a little guy with huge lungs). Dropkick Murphys and The Real McKenzies fans will love this sucker.
Cairde na Gael: Irish Friends
Straight outta of Arnie’s Irish Bar in downtown Tulsa (and friends of the mighty Larkin) comes Cairde na Gael with ‘Irish Friends’, their first release (I think?). ‘Irish Friends’ is a collection of traditional Irish folk ballads, jigs and reels – very much in the tradition of The Dubliners and Clancy’s with just a touch of Okie music – ‘Okie Irish’ they call it. In addition to the Okie, the female lead vocals of Kelly Lamb on about 5 of the tracks really sets the band apart and it’s a great offset to the ol’geezer sound of the rest of the band.
THE GOBSHITES: When the Shite Hits the Fans
Boston’s own The Gobshites put a different twist on this whole Celtic Punk sound – now instead of a punk band playing trad. Irish covers we have a full 7 piece Pogues inspired trad. group covering some of punks best drinking songs – including Sham 69, UK Subs, SLF, GG Allin, Sex Pistols, Ramones and Black Flag – ‘Guinness Boys’ originally done by The Business is a classic. A highly entertaining CD and a great live band – if you ever have the opportunity to see ’em live, then do it.
Andrew Goodsight’s MusicHead: GloryTown
Fucking side projects, Huh? What’s the deal with these damned things? If I thought the bass player of one of my all time favorite bands should be the singer I’d tell him so! Who is Drew to go out and do this? Well after checking out his website for the band at www.andrewgoodsight.com I was quite surprised the kid’s accomplishments! I still see him as the kid making out with some guys girlfriend in front of the men’s room of the Half Door, as the boyfriend rushes him I step in the way grabbing the guy and turning him around telling him he didn’t want that kind of trouble. Then having to walk the guys to the van so they didn’t get jumped by the boyfriend laying in wait outside!
He’s just a chill bass player that likes to have a good time and couldn’t be mellower to talk to, who knew he had it in him to write such soulful and colorful songs. Is it really Irish music, or even punk rock, well um no, but he’s been the bass player for the most influential and commanding Irish Icon rock bands for quite some time and he deserves this recognition. Besides he covers Christmas Lullaby and does it about 8 thousand times better than Shane ever could, mainly because Drew has all his front teeth!
There are twelve tracks on this CD that take you through a nice mellow ride of sound and consciousness. My favorite tracks are by far the title track, his two covers and Riffing for a Change. As far as dedicating a song to P2 the Black 47, well wrangler/tour guy/ driver/ roadie/ guru and straight man was in keeping with even though this is a serious release he has fun with it, the song you ask? The Amazing Spider Man theme song!
Go find this CD for two reasons, one you secretly need a chill out album in your collection of Macc Ladd’s, GG Allin, Gobshites, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. And secondly it’ll impress chicks that you enjoy this deep indie music.
Singing Loins: Songs To Hear Before You Die
Singing Loins: Songs To Hear Before You Die “Sure beats the shit outta the Pogues.”
Everett True – MELODY MAKER
For a fellow known to randomly go off on a tangent from time to time, The latest release from The Singing Loins, “Songs To Hear Before You Die” has left me utterly speechless. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s raw, it’s authentic, it’s also one of the most complete albums I have heard in recent years! Trust me, I’ve had this album for a couple months now, and I honestly had to calm down before I could even attempt to review it. Sure you could mention this as a candidate for album of the year, but I personally think “Songs To Hear Before You Die” is so timeless, it’s shouldn’t matter what bloody year it is. Their sound has that acoustic grit most bands would kill for. Real folk music. True busking troubadours, The Singing Loins play the type of folk music that leaves a ring in your tub after a bath. Skiffle with soul, so to speak…
The Singing Loins are not a new band, in fact they formed in Medway, England around late 1990. Soon they had Billy Childish in their corner ready to produce an LP. After releasing a about a half dozen albums on Hangman Records, The Singing Loins called it quits. (Lucky for me, a couple years later, The Dolomites recorded The Singing Loins song “Hauling In The Slack” on their “Hogshead Of Whisky” album.)
In 2004, the lads, (Chris Broderick & Arfur Allen) reformed, and released the 49 track compilation “The Complete & Utter Singing Loins” Containing all the previously released material they recorded for Hangman, these recordings are re-mastered from the production dats that were made from the original masters. In 2005, they released ‘Songs To Hear Before You Die” containing all new material.
Even though the entire album is flawless, the stand out tracks for me are:
Low November Sun
The Pub On The Corner
A true classic. Simply put
Review by: Brian Gillespie
Black 47: Bittersweet 16
Bittersweet 16 is not so much a best of Black 47 but instead a chronological history of B47 starting with their first recording back in 1990 (the cassette only ‘Home of the Brave’) and with one song from each subsequent year through to the present – rarities, previously unreleased and alternative versions of live favorites from their now deleted major label releases. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to B47 and this is a great reminder to me how good this band really is and how well the songs have stood the test of time (16 years later and ‘Home of the Brave’ a song about illegal immigration and George Bush seems very current) . Definitely something for both the old and new fan here.
Culann’s Hounds: Year of the Dog
I know I prone to hyperbole at times but honestly I think San Francisco’s’ Culann’s Hounds are probably the best traditional Irish group in the US at the moment or at least the best I’ve heard. Culann’s perform rich, authentic trad., with passion and feeling and without any of that paddywack crap that is so common in trad. circles in the US. I had high expectations for the Hounds on their sophomoric release and they certainly don’t disappoint.
Twenty Two: The Cultural Coupon
22 are an experimental/alternative rock group from Limerick, Ireland and are very much in the wall of noise tradition of Big Black but crossed with the pop sensibilities of That Petrol Emotion at their most trashiest (Manic Pop Thrill). Fans of much loved and missed the Irish semi-industrial band The Fatima Mansions (and fans of TPE) will get a kick out of this. Nice to hear some original music coming out of Ireland – didn’t think they did that there anymore.
Greenland Whalefishers : Down & Out
With Down and Out, the latest offering from Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers, GWF maintain the “KISS”, Keep It Simple Stupid, philosophy and while there’s nothing earth-shattering with what they do, there doesn’t have to be as they do quite well with what they have.
The band, made up of Arvid Grov, vocals, occasional guitar and songwriter, Gunnar “Two Sheds” Grov, mandolin, banjo and bouzouki, Trond Olsen, guitar, Terje Schumann Olsen, bass, Agnes Skollevoll, tin-whistle, Odin Døssland and Kristian Malmo, fiddle and Ørjan Eikeland Risan on drums have a good one here and are definately far from “Down & Out”.
All the offerings on this release are very nicely done, melodic and well balanced. The signature of this band are the vocals of Arvid Grov. His raspy vocals are a perfect front to the tracks and are a recognizable trademark of the band. Agnes Skollevoll’s whistle is a great accompanyment as well and added in the right doses. The rest of the outfit rounds out the sound very nicely.
There are some great songs on this CD. Highlight tracks are “Hit The Ground”, “The Rocky Roads Of London”,”Punk Shanty” and my personal favorite, “Brody”. There’s also a nice instrumental in “City of Angels”.
If you’re a fan of the Whalefishers or are looking something to start your GWF collection, this is a good one to get. You’ll be rewarded with almost 40 minutes of good times!
Review by The Blackstuff
The Killigans: Brown Bottle Hymnal
Trad-punk six piece The Killigans hail from Nebraska, the American central Great Plains State framed by Bruce Springsteen in his 1982 release of the same name. Perhaps, for many outsiders, Springsteen conclusively established the imagery of the place through his bare lyrics and bleakly romantic cover art, his own vision of a vast and lonely rural America echoed in Tom Waits songs such as ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ and ‘Train Song’. Whatever the case, The Killigans’ debut album Brown Bottle Hymnal shows them steeped in a raw fresh aura of hinterland. They are, perhaps, the only recorded example of an elusive species; the spiritually rural punk band.
And punk they are. Although their lyrics would no doubt earn a nod from Steve Earle and Jeff Tweedy, this is not ‘country’ – whatever that is – nor is it the critically-cherished style known as ‘Americana’. The Killigans owe something to Flogging Molly’s electric folk crunch and love of full-throated delivery but the accent is their own. Opening with the jaunty dockyard accordion of ‘Lullaby For The Working Man’, dual vocalists Brad Hoffman and Chris Nebesniak launch into a raucous lament for shafted underdogs that sounds like it could have surfaced in one of Woody Guthrie’s long-lost songbooks. The pace is maintained with The Dubliners’ trad favourite ‘The Holy Ground’, a prayer sung by sailors amongst themselves so that they may return again to the women and taverns that complement their other real addiction; the sea itself. People will still be singing this song in a hundred years and The Killigans understand this quality and do it justice.
‘Ballad For The Working Man’ is another vignette of proletariat frustration and restriction – “ The factory life is all I have, an all inclusive club … I know that I’m just an ordinary man, I’m none too smart” – but still holds onto the hope of defiance, spat out alongside the resentment: “We will rise up, stand up and fight”. The mix has electric and tautly strummed acoustic guitar complementing each other neatly and brings to mind the better Flogging Molly stuff.
There’s a hearty toast to The Dropkick Murphys on ‘Story Of Tom Mathine’ with it’s bar room call-and-answer verses and swaying singalong chorus, snare roll-driven pace and bawdy storyline in which the title character – “ a bully and a prick through and through “ – gets his just desserts at the hands of a no-nonsense, hard-drinking preacher.
The band takes a detour with the introspective ‘Season Of My Weakness’, a catchy mid-tempo folk rock number. Then it’s sleeves rolled up and straight back into the lowly bars with ‘Radney’s Ghost’, a theatrical pirate yarn of treachery and the cat, inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick: “ Being flogged on the deck was more than he could bear … Rad was dropped with a punch, spouted blood just like a whale “. All signs point to this one being a jawbreaker when played live.
The faded but beloved Dubliners and Clancy Brothers records come out again with ‘The Old Orange Flute’, the surreal tale of the fickle Orangeman Bob Williamson who runs off with a Catholic girl, taking his prized – but seemingly possessed – flute with him; try as he might, he can’t get the instrument to play anything but ‘The Protestant Boys’ and so a council of priests burn it at the stake. However, the flute has the last say: “ As the flames soared around, sure it made a quare noise, ‘twas the old flute still playing ‘The Protestant Boys!’ ”.
‘Lessons From The Empty Glass’ is a banjo-led instrumental that sounds like the soundtrack to the most gloriously fun and violent western TV series never made. Then the band really hit the highway with ‘The Old Road Down’, a big, brooding mid-American number that calls to mind Copperhead Road-era Steve Earle; “ Got everything I own inside this Chevrolet, going nowhere and that needle’s dropping fast, that woman broke my heart in St. Louis, shot ‘em both and drove into the west “.
The guitars stay cranked for ‘Apathetic Notions’, a curse against the exploitative status quo and the system that leads to “most of us exploited by the rich” not knowing “we’ve put the yoke on our own necks”. But as with their other political songs, there is a flame of hope through making such acknowledgments.
The album ends with the desolate and moving ‘ Desperate Cry ‘. This is the sort of song that John Mellencamp may have written if he had joined a punk band – “ Famer stands watching as his crops wilt away … cry out to the Lord God, ‘Help me Jesus I pray! “ – it immediately calls to mind the classic Rain On The Scarecrow. The spare arrangement, using only trumpet and acoustic guitar to accompany Hoffman’s bereft voice, flips the whole album upside down on its head.
Brown Bottle Hymnal is a significantly original punk rock release. Hoffman’s capacity to lead and hold a tune rivals the best of them and the lyrics are varied and engaging. It smells as fresh as approaching rain and a cracked can of cold beer. The Killigans have drawn water from the well and are irrigating their own fields.
Shite’n’Onions: What the Shite
What can I say really? Unless you’re dead, there’s no real reason not to own this compilation… S’n’O II contains some of the best up and coming Celt-Punk (Or whatever) bands out there. Some of them you may know, and some of them you probably won’t. Containing 20 tracks from 18 of the best bands of the “genre” What The Shite is pretty much the ultimate mix tape ever. I seriously haven’t been able to finish any other reviews because this bad boy won’t leave my CD player. (Trust me, that IS saying something.) To say the least, I was surprised (and proud) when S’n’O Volume I came out. Ol’ Murph certianly had an ace card up his sleeve for that one. Shite’n’Onions Volume II is even better! An effin’ royal flush, folks!
Track One is called “Drunken Sailor” & it comes from the Blaggards. You might have heard the song “Drunken Sailor” before, but within two seconds of hearing this version you’ll agree this is one of the better versions out there. (Shay Given approved)
Up next is “Hogjaw” from Jackdaw. it’s a damn same I live so far away from these guys, because from what I’ve heard, Jackdaw’s live show will blow the roof off. Turn up the volume to 11 if you’d like an instant skylight for your home.
Three’s a charm, as they say. The Go Set hails from the shores of Australia, and instantly became of of my favorite bands, and “Sing Me A Song” is a great example. If you like DKM’s “Do Or Die”, you’ll love this!
Track 4 is reserved for The Kissers – “Kicked In The Head” Less than a week ago, The Kissers came through town, and all night long I screamed at the top of my lungs “You Bastards! Play Kicked In The Head!!!” As I’m sure anyone within 5 blocks could tell you that night, I’m a big fan of the song. I’m an even bigger fan of the band, even if their squeezebox player beat me at pool… (The table was crooked.)
Number 5 is for all those Cow-Punks out there. “Pub With No Beer” by Boston’s own, Three Day Threshold. What do they sound like you ask? Just imagine a drunken paddy punk with a boombox on his shoulder atop a galloping horse in full stride across the wild west trying find a sixpack before the pubs close outta do it…
Track 6: “Plastic Paddy” is also on “Liquordale” by The Peelers. it’s also S’n’o’s pick for 2004’s album of the year, and rightfully so, Let me guess, I no longer need to convince you any longer right?
On track number 7 there’s a song called “Blackheart” by Jugopunch. To be honest, I haven’t heard them before. So just so you know, I too will be purchasing an album from them. Wanna race?
Tracks 8 & 9 contain a 1-2 punch courtesy of Larkin. The left jab is called “My Day Of Reckoning” and the right upper cut is called “The Devil & I” If you’re a Southpaw, I apologize, just switch it around a bit! I think I can safely say that Larkin are atop the favs list here at S’n’O land.
Track 10 and 11 are from Mutiny. Aka: “Folk Punk For Punk Folk” If you’d like to hear some Aussie folk-punk with a slight case of scurvy, I highly reccomend listening to both “Struggle Town” & this unreleased version of “Drigging for Gold” All you scallywags out there will love ’em both.
12. The Gobshites – “Cheers” Do me a favor… get this album, go down to your local public house press the play button, grab a pint, hold it high, & cheer your mates. The Gobshites are playing, & good times are here!
Track 13 belongs to The Town Pants and their song “The Weight Of Words” I found out about The Town Pants from this very website, (Thanks, Murph!) The Town Pants recently released their best album to date, and this song is just a sample of what else is to come from a band I joking like to call “The Country Shorts” My god, that was just horrible…
#14 is IcewagonFlu’s “Trinity” not only do they provide the cover art folks, The multitasking Icewagon Flu also write some of the catchiest tunes this side of the pond. if you’re not dancing to this one, you don’t have a pulse.
Track 15. McGillicuddys “On The Rocks” The song isn’t excatly the newest track on the album, (2002) but who the hell cares, these guys are timeless. In fact, I’d love to hear another album from them soon. Check ’em out and get in line.
#16. Another band I need to hear more of are the Sharkey Doyles. “Kings Of The One Eleven” is a great introduction to a band I’ve been hearing alot about.
Track 17 comes to us all the way from England. “The Ballad Of Ali Abbas” from Warblefly. Let me tell you, I have all their albums, and can’t get enough of these guys. Top notch music, and without question, one of the best bands out there. A must have.
Track 18. The Pubcrawlers have come a long way. I remember hearing their demo a few years ago, and made a note to myself to keep an eye out for them. “My Brother Sylveste” proves to me that The Pubcrawlers have evolved into one of the best examples of Celt-Core out there…
Number 19. The Porters will make your jaw drop. German streetpunk covered from head to toe in Guinness. “Weila Weila” gets my vote for best sing-along of the album. If you enjoy this track wait until you hear “A Tribute To Arthur Guinness”
20. I was so excited to hear Barney Murray was making music again. The former lead singer of Blood Or Whiskey has returned to form with the previously unreleased “Troublesome Girl” I hope to hear from Barney, but I’ll take what I can get and be more than happy about it.
So there you have it. Shite’n’Onions Volume II – What The Shite… Look for it in your local record store, or better yet order it directly from the source.
Review By “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie
T. Duggins: Undone
Well what do you do to make your solo album sound different from the albums you’ve made from the band you’ve fronted for so many years? Well what you don’t do is invite the whole band to play all over the album and make the sound quality feel like your listening to something recorded in a basement on a $0 budget.
That all being said (sorry T.) I really did enjoy this album because in some ways it brings me back to the older stuff The Tossers have done, including the long rants Tony does on social issues that I don’t think Victory records wouldn’t allow on their pressed discs. There appears on this album another early feel of The Tossers you don’t get in the last two CDs and that is a sense of desperation. You can hear in T.’s voice a sense of desperation and uncertainty. It’s probably because he isn’t sure how the CD is going to turn out!
Now I may just be another lunatic in a kilt, but if there’s one thing I know its trad. songs and this disc is stuffed with them. There are two that stick out the most and one is “The ballad of accounting”. This is a powerful song with its social issues that are as poignant today as they were when they were written, this is a song that should be a Tossers regular song, if not on CD, at least live. T. sings it with such conviction and soulfulness he really shows us the power behinds the words, buy the CD just for this song if you have to, but there is more…
“Monto!” What a great version of this song! Maybe because it does quite defiantly sound as if there was an outside influence of our little friend Alky Hall? It’s a great song for parties and social gatherings no matter who sings it unless its done by those stuffed shirt traditionalists. But this song brings a new sense of energy I forgot it could have. This is my new get ready to party song, it replaces my old one which was another new Tosser song, can you guess which one?
The CD also has a version of “Late” which appears on The Tossers new CD but this version is more raw and very beautiful, I enjoyed that little nugget. However there was one other nugget I could have been getting a beer rather than listening through and I’m sorry to all those involved in its making, but “Boots of Spanish leather” in my opinion fell on it’s face, and in turn should have fell on the cutting room floor.
All and all i really enjoy this CD and am glad I went online to www.thickrecords.com and picked it up, I suggest if your a fan of music, any kind of music grab this one, its got enough great music to drag you through your meaningless job humming from day to day, or stuck in traffic need a pick me up, there you go! It’s best useage is of course, this should be no surprise to those that know me, to be drinking pints with friends cranking this up and singing along. And for it’s price of just $10 bucks you can’t go wrong! Just watch out the case came to me broken in places, just a little side note I thought I’d warn you about.
Review by Springfield Brian
The Real McKenzies: 10,000 Shots
“Enjoy what’chas got, not what you have not ’tis a weak heart lamenting with sorrow…”
Vancouver’s Real McKenzies serve notice on this that they are not to be trifled with! The title itself is worth something.
The McKenzies have a decidedly less “punk” slant to this offering, it’s still there and their Scottish heritage is on full display and they don’t make any apologies for it. They have great energy in their performance and shouldn’t be slighted in the least. The songs written by the band are for the most part the best tracks of this release but they do a good job with the others as well.
The pipe work on the McKenzie’s part is top notch, more adventurous and is added in good measure. There’s nothing groundbreaking here just good fun. They even poke fun at Monty Python FFS.
All that shite said, this offering from The Real McKenzies is a good listen and fans of the genre won’t be disappointed. Good tunes abound here. If you’re looking for something to listen to and have a good time, this is it.
Review by The Black Stuff
The Go Set: The Hungry Mile
From the surf coast of Victoria, Australia, The Go Set crank up the pipes and take the fight to the bosses as they relive the past through the people who never got to write the history books.
The Go Set first marched into view, all bagpipes and tattered banners and bandaged heads held high, with 2005’s Sing A Song Of Revolution, an exciting an accessible collection emigrant anthems and mandolin-spiked drinking music. The Hungry Mile sees a continuation of the band exploring the lives of ordinary people across a two hundred year spectrum of time, and how much those lives often have in common. It also examines more detailed and personal themes.
In an era when many bands are lost in an almost glam haze of self conscious dress-ups – mascara, ties, nail polish, sardonic retro, shopping plaza ‘punk’, etc. – The Go Set recall a time when Australian bands weren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and put their balls on the line. It seems like a very long time ago now, but when bands like Midnight Oil, Spy Vs Spy and Roaring Jack once sang their songs of protest and real lives lived, people listened without banding the word “political” around, as if that in itself conveyed a musical style. The Go Set are coming out of the same realist, impassioned and historically-connected worlds of these bands, an almost-but-not-quite-lost Australia that knew bullshit when it saw it and that could recognize the many crossbreeds of underdog that made up a society without – as is the case now – scrambling over every scrap and shiny thing in a mindless quest to become the over-dog. In this era of bitterly cynical derivation and depressing pop idolatry – all of it the perfect soundtrack for this most materialistic of times – singer songwriter Justin Keenan and The Go Set remind us that some people still work shit jobs, don’t accept the carrots that dangle and dissipate in front of them, don’t vote for right wing corporate warmongers and are more than prepared to say they are nothing short of fucked off with the whole lying, exploitative status quo.
Initially received as a ‘Celtic rock’ or ‘Celtic punk’ band on account of the bagpipe-driven singalongs and chiming mandolin reels and stomps, The Go Set nonetheless live in their own accent and stick to their own guns. As befits the instruments and folk influences, The Go Set have one foot in their sepia-toned history but also one in their own fired-up present; this is not historical re-enactment with a Marshall stack. The band play their trad instruments with a conviction and relevance that transcends any of the novelty value that is sometimes ascribed to some bands. The opening track ‘Jig Of Slur’ is pure whisky and whirling around a tinkers’ campfire and establishes the Goeys’ solid ceilidh credentials. This blends into the pub rock shanty of Bordeaux, a song that typifies the high-spirited but wistful Go Set sound and Keenan’s bare and unaffected singing style. Then straight into the brawny, mandolin-laced immigrant anthem Davey, a story of last drinks before sailing from Ireland to the timber mills of New South Wales. The historical voyage continues with the galley drums and pipe and whistle riffing of ‘Tale of a Convict’, a tribute to the desolation and utter powerlessness of Britain’s convicts in the South Seas. The Transportation era is brought into the present with the rumble of ‘Salamanca’, a rollicking live favourite that reflects on the irony of freedom of speech in modern day Hobart, where earnest dreadlocked lefties agonize over abstract crusades amid the monuments of what was once, after all, a British gulag. ‘All The Truth And Lies’ is a slab of classic eighties crunch rock with a punching drumkit and angry sentiment that brings to mind that other great angry surf band, Midnight Oil.
The pipes kick in again with ‘Union Man’, a straightforward tribute to those countless anonymous souls who feed the engines of our showcase western societies: “We are the underclass and the lucky country holds us dear. Union man, can you save us? We need just a quid a week and a raincoat for this rain. Clocking in but we are never clocking out again.”
The buzzing rock is broken with ‘Hardness Of His Hand’, an acoustic ballad that portrays the plight of a beaten wife and mother, and the tragic, timeless irony of her complex trap. Featuring Mark ‘Squeezebox Wally’ Wallace of Weddings, Parties, Anything fame on piano accordion, the tune does indeed bring to mind the great and much-missed Melbourne institution that WPA was.
Just when you are ready to die inside, though, the boys fire up again with ‘Power Of Youth’, a pure and thrilling fist-raiser that reminds us all of the simple truth that while us little people still have breath in our lungs and revel in our freedom, we cannot truly be downtrodden by the scornful McDomination of our lives and our society.
Then onto the album’s opus, ‘Scarlet Snow’. In this particularly moving number – waltzed along again by Wallace’s accordion – Keenan tackles the subject of World War One and its blood sacrifice with confidence and compassion. Beginning, as so many such stories did, in a country town, the idealistic volunteers become soldiers who are soon swept into the maelstrom of the western front, where “frozen men and metal littered all the field, covered for a moment by the winter’s soft white yield”. A timeless hymn alternating between crashing cymbals and sad fiddle laments, Scarlet Snow nonetheless conveys a sense of hope in its rousing chorus; “Lay down your guns, boys, help the ships pull south across the sea”.
After the sheer scale of Scarlet Snow, we’re back in acoustic mode again with ‘Learning Slowly’. This song sees the narrator reflecting on parenthood as it relates to the self-awareness and acknowledgment of being a human being, ie, flawed;“I drink too much at times, I have been known to fight and I always lose on sure things”. This is one to listen to on your own over a few quite beers on a sunny summer evening.
‘The Longest Holiday’ is another crunchy pop number, and sits in contrast to the following ‘Bombs Falling’ which begins with a bullish diatribe by Australian Prime Minister John Howard, once famously described by left-wing journalist Bob Ellis as having “a voice like a bucket of snot”. A grim punk shout against war, it is also a damning attack on Howard’s priggish and sanctimonious pro-Bush stance.
The last song is the show-closer ‘Scots Wha’ Hae’ – as much Radio Birdman as Robbie Burns – and the album closes with a few rounds of Jig Of Slurs, giving a real sense of performance to the whole show. A live band if there ever was one, The Go Set have done themselves justice with The Hungry Mile. In its humanity and spirited trad roots, it is bound to enjoy a broad appeal. Score: Six beers out of a possible six pack, (plus a whisky chaser!)
Review by Will Swan
Alistair Hulett: Riches & Rags
“Imagine a Scottish Billy Bragg, playing folk songs on the same level as Woody Guthrie, with the lyrics (almost) on par with Robert Burns.”
To put it as blunt as possible, when I think of modern Scottish folk music, I think of Alistair Hulett. There, I’ve said it. I can now take a deep breath and continue on. The former frontman of Roaring Jack has produced yet another stunning album that continues to define the way folk music should be played. “Riches & Rags” is Ally’s seventh acoustic album. That’s not counting the (3) Roaring Jack albums. Many of you have probably heard a few of those Roaring Jack tunes by now, so now is as good a time as any to pick up an Alistair Hulett solo album. I’d start with this one.
Actually, The full title of the album is: “Riches & Rags; Modern Music for Wireless and Gramophone” Performed by: Alistair Hulett and several of his friends. (Friends include Gavin Livingstone, Nancy Kerr, & James Fagan) “Riches And Rags” is the first album without longtime collaborator Dave Swarbrick since the mid-nineties. It’s an album that mixes everything from his self penned hard-hitting political songs, to some traditional material, to a couple of blues numbers. Out of all the Alistair albums I own, “Riches & Rags” cover the most ground. It contains four originals, (Two of them reworked Roaring Jack tunes!) four covers, and three traditionals. I’ve had “Riches & Rags” in my CD player for over a month now, and after playing it a few dozen different times, I can promise you this: the album is absolutely brilliant from start to finish.
1. The Fair Flower Of Northumberland. (Traditional)
An 18th century border ballad. Alistair interprets the Scots version. The song is basically a warning to all the young Englishwomen to avoid any romantic endeavors with the Scots border reivers. If you ask me, it’s a perfect song to play while you ask some English lass for a dance, & give a wee wink to your Scottish ancestors when she’s not looking!
2. Criminal Justice (Words & Music by A. Hulett)
Originally recorded with Roaring Jack. It’s a song about the derailment of the justice system by the powers that be. I enjoyed listening to Alistair’s acoustic versions of all these old Roaring Jack songs.
3. Riches And Rags (Words & Music by A. Hulett)
For those keeping score, this song is the most recent Hulett original to date. According to Ally, this is a song about remembering not to forget.
4. The Recruited Collier (Traditional)
More or less, a song about recruiting the poor, to fight the rich man’s war. Something’s never change eh?
5. The Dark Eyed Sailor (Traditional)
One of my favorite tracks on the record! A Nautical tune! Alistair gives new light to this “dark-eyed” traditional number.
6. Stealin’ Back To My Same Old Used To Be (Will Shade)
This song was originally written and recorded back in 1926, by Will Shade & his The Memphis Jug Band. Alistair makes a great point, the jug band tradition of using household utensils and DIY ethic is similar to 70’s punk music. A bluesy number that surprised me the first time I heard it.
7. Shot Down In Flames (Words & Music by A. Hulett)
Another Roaring Jack song about those not-so-happy moments at the end of a relationship. Fantastic lyrics, Mr. Hulett…Yet again!
8. Militant Red (Words & Music by A. Hulett)
A fantastic love song about a woman who wants to overthrow a certain “you-know-who” This song was originally on my favorite Alistair album “In The Back Streets Of Paradise” (Think acoustic Roaring Jack) Alistair originally recorded it with The Hooligans after Roaring Jack disbanded, and before he moved back to Scotland.
9. Old King Coal (John Kirkpatrick)
John Barleycorn moves to the city, if you will. I’d love to track down the original.
10. The First Girl I Loved (Robin Williamson)
Let’s be honest, sometimes you need to sit back and reflect on things. Sometimes an image of an old girlfriend pops into your head when this happens… If I were a guitar player, I’d love to learn this beautiful song. I’m not a guitar player and I’d still love to learn this beautiful song. (Just don’t sing it around your wife) The dorbo resonator guitar playing in the background completes the mood perfectly.
11. Trouble In Mind (Richard M. Jones)
What a great blues song! It’s even greater to hear Ally covering it. (Yet another song to track down.) The perfect track to end a perfect album on.
In other news, Alistair Hulett will be touring the USA this April. If you are in the Northeast/Midwest part of the country, consider yourselves lucky. (Can I sleep on your couch?) More details to be posted on Shite’n’Onions soon! Also, in Roaring Jack news, there may be another album coming out this year! A Live/Rarites album is the rumor. We’ll keep you posted.
For more information check out: http://www.folkicons.co.uk/alistair.htm and for anything Roaring Jack related check out Andy Carr’s excellent site http://www.roaringjack.com (Tell him I sent ya!)
Review By Brian Gillespie
Swill And The Swaggerband: The Day After
“Brilliant! I hope they do it again, and soon!”
Let’s start this off the right way, shall we? Drop what ever it is that you’re doing, run down to the nearest pub, and raise your glass to The Men They Couldn’t Hang. (If you were already at the pub to begin with, you’re my personal hero!) We all owe as much to TMTCH as we do The Pogues, The Dubliners, etc. If you are unfamiliar with TMTCH, you’ll need to play a little catch-up! As far as background checks go, Swill is a current member of The Men They Couldn’t Hang (If you haven’t noticed yet, TMTCH is a what we like to call, a shortcut.) TMTCH have been around for 20+ years. They released their latest album “Smugglers And Bounty Hunters” in 2005. That being said, let’s move on…
“The Day After” is Swill’s solo album. The plan for the album is definitely worth mentioning. First of all, EVERYTHING had to be acoustic. All the people Swill wanted to accompany him on the album were simply given very rough copies of the songs Swill had written. There would be no rehearsal. They would simply run through all the songs and record everything until they got the definitive version. In my opinion, it turned out beautifully! I hate to use the word organic, but it just fits so perfectly. Organic! Nothing on the album sounds rushed, or unfinished. It sounds like a group of friends getting together to play some fantastic songs, and the main point was to have a great time doing it. You can hear how loose everyone sounds on this album. Obviously, there were smiles all around! I’m still amazed how tight these guys sound, considering they didn’t really rehearse! Not to mention, I think my foot was tapping along to the groove the whole time. That my friends, is a great indicator of a brilliant album! My foot doesn’t lie.
The band contains some current members of TMTCH, and some former members of TMTCH. (Can you tell I love typing TMTCH yet?)
Swill – vocals, rhythm acoustic guitar
Tom Spencer – lead acoustic guitar, Nashville String acoustic guitar, banjo
Ricky McGuire – acoustic bass guitar
Jon Odgers – snare drum, bongos, shaker
Bobby Valentino – fiddle, mandolin
So if your a fan of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, you’ll love this album, and if you haven’t heard of The Men They Couldn’t Hang yet, this is a great place to start. I’d also recommend “Night Of A Thousand Candles”
1. The Thief, The Brief, And The Boy In Blue
2. Ready To Blow
3. Family Way (A Changing World)
4. These Days
6. Ordinary Girls
7. The Day After
8. Sea Of Heartbreak
9. The Story
10. Hanwell Shuffle
11. In The Jailhouse Now
12. Lost In The Flood
13. You Make My Life Complete
Check out http://www.tmtch.net for more info.
Review By “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie
I reckon I like this band!
I’d never heard Larkin before and didn’t know what to expect but I have to say I was missing out. I’ve nothing against Tulsa, Oklahoma. Any city with a hockey team is OK by me but I wouldn’t have expected this.
Pretty impressive shite from my point of view…This band really got my feet and other parts movin’. This is what I like from a band of this genre. Tunes full of energy with a good sound accompanying it. Nothing overpowering, just straight forward stuff.
As other outfits can easily be identified by their vocal styling, the same can be said of Larkin. Chad Malone’s vocals are a perfect accompaniment to the music; providing a voice that brings Larkin’s songs to life, meshing the music and lyrics together nicely. The other members of the band do a good job providing the base for Malone’s voice.
Larkin does a good job mixing their songs so that the instrumentals don’t overpower the vocals; meaning you can actually hear what they’re singing about. There is a very nice blend of instruments in all of their songs from David Lawrence’s pipes to Karen Naifeh Harmon’s fiddle. All of them find their place in Larkin’s offerings. One would be hard pressed to find any place where the music didn’t fit.
The entire CD is pretty good but I really liked “Of Hope and Misfortune”, “Ghost of Long Gone Days” the instrumental “Woody Hornpipe” amongst others.
Give Larkin a listen. I think you’ll like what you hear. I’ll be givin’ this one plenty of play.
Review The Black Stuff
The Bad Things: The Bad Things
Holy shit! That dead accordian just breathed on me!
A few years ago, I noticed The Reverend Glasseye were playing a gig in Portland with The Dolomites. I looked at the showbill, I noticed the opening band were called: “A Midnight Choir” I had no idea who they were, so I decided to get a closer inspection and show up early. Based on my obervations, I came to this conclusion: Imagine Edgar Allen Poe picking up a squeezebox instead of a pen. Imagine if “The Raven” was an album instead of a book. Simply put, but pretty much sums up “A Midnight Choir” Turns out that gig was The Choir’s last show. Eventually, members of “A Midnight Choir” joined other bands such as: The Wages Of Sin, Moonpenny Opera, The Circus Contraption, and The Bad Things.
The Bad Things pretty much pick things up where “A Midnight Choir” left off… Imagine if Nick Cave’s little brother found a time machine & became a member of some house band at a funeral home in the late 19th century. That might actually be the case, I dunno ,but if the end of the world come tomorrow, The Bad Things, would be the ones pointing, & giggling saying something like: “Die, die die, Ha-ha! We told you so!!! Ha-ha!” with enough old fashioned black humor to poke a dead dog in the guts with a stick…
The Bad Things debut album came out in 2004, and according to lead singer Jimmy “the Pickpocket” the album is kind of dated, They have a new album coming out soon, with plenty of new band members, so look for a second review in the near future. In the meantime, if you’re looking for junkyard polkas in the graveyard at midnight, look no further. The Bad Things have dug up the remains of all the Gypsy-folk Klezmer bands in the graveyard, set them a blaze, and danced around the fire singing some alcoholic hillbilly rave-up about dust, death, and the devil!
2. The Longest Bar In The World
3. Drinking My Devils Away
4. Devils Riding Crop
5. Lucky Man
6. Town Square
7. End Of The World Polka
9. Long Black Train
10. Death Of The Inferno
11. Ochi Chyormie (Dark Eyes)
The Shanes: Pölka
After releasing a steady stream of recordings in the early and mid-nineties PöLKA is only the Shanes’ second release since 1996’s collaboration with the Hungarian group Vezerkar. That’s a shame because they excel in merging Eastern European folk music with punk rock. Their hard driving rhythms coupled with the omnipresent accordion and fiddle have been accentuated more noticeably this time with crunchy electric guitar, and their occasional meanderings into French, Irish and American country music prevent them from falling into predictability. Sung almost entirely in English their songwriting too often seems dependant on linking rhyming words than presenting a deeper lyrical thought. But that’s a minor complaint. After all precious few bands are actually as cerebral and informed as they would have you believe. So the Shanes’ lyrical deficiencies are easily overlooked because their music is so exceptional.
Review By: Dave Sleger
Tempest: 15th Anniversary Collection
This three-disc set is for fans of Celtic-rock in the classic sense. It is comprised of one disc each devoted to studio, radio and live recordings. The “studio” disc is disproportionately weighted toward Tempest’s early and more pedestrian period – their pre-Magna Carta recordings, prior to them adopting the prog tendencies that have made them frequently compared to Jethro Tull, Horslips and Fairport Convention. The “radio” disc contains broadcast interview outtakes and songs recorded live in radio studios in promotion of the respective CD release. This disc is a bit more up-to-date and may be of more interest to fans of the progressive Celtic-rock that Tempest is now synonymous with. And finally the “live” disc is most reflective of this band’s current likeness despite their high turnover of band members. If a three-disc CD seems a bit of a risky purchase to sample this band then try THE GRAVEL WALK or BALANCE for starters.
Review By: Dave Sleger
The Scotch Greens: Professional
This awesome new release by the Scotch Greens is slated for a January ’06 release. Produced by Ted Hutt for Brass Tacks Records, it is loaded with all of the ingredients that readers of Shite ‘n’ Onions clamor for – irreverence, attitude, unbridled energy, subtle Celtic overtones, trash country and of course raw yet melodic punk rock. Lead singer Zander Cox delivers with a passion and clarity rarely heard in the folk-punk field. His gutsy approach will humble most aspiring singers into admitting that he’s got the goods and we will never compare. PROFESSIONAL will make believers of you after just one listen. Guaranteed!
Review By: Dave Sleger