Reviews – 2004

Wages Of Sin : Drink & The Devil – Demo

One of the good things about blending various musical style together is this band from Seattle called The Wages Of Sin. (No need to discuss the bad right?) The Wages Of Sin self-describe their music as: Punk-Rock Sea Shanties & Appalachian Death Polka Since 1862. Considering the fact that they are dead on, I no longer need to continue with the review! The Wages Of Sin like to use fiddles, stand-up bass, mandolins, guitars, drums & vocals as their respective tools of evil! And according to their bio, they enjoy mixing Celtic with country with Appalachian with rockabilly with Tex-Mex with bluegrass and follow the whole mess with a bracing shot of punk rock. The standout for me where the rockabilly and Appalachian influences. If I were you i’d expect some great music coming from these guys in the future. Anyone heading up to Seattle for the Celtic/Arsenal football match this summer will have a great opportunity to see them live.(That is of course, if they’re playing that night..)

Oh yeah I need to mention that the 3rd track “Jolly Roger” is 100% Pirate-Approved! ARGGH!

Review By The Reverend Brian Gillespie

Smoky Finish: Clear This Planet…Immediately

Austria’s (that’s right Austria not Australia) Smoky Finish go a long way to prove what I’ve always said – you don’t have to be Irish or Scottish by birth or descent to play top notch traditional Celtic music with feel and passion. If you disagree with that statement give “The Rock’n’Reel Connection” a good listen and I think you’ll change your mind. Still disagree then go back to you Westlife tapes.

Smoky Finish serve up a platter of the finest rock tinged traditional Celtic music this side of Runrig or even the great Moving Hearts. I should also give a special mention to the tracks “Erin Go Bragh” which manages to incorporate GWB and the theme from Mission Impossible and the stunning cover of Andy Stewarts “The Queen of Argyll”

Blood or Whiskey: Promo EP

I’ve been a big fan of Blood or Whiskey since the release of their classic self-titled CD back in ’96 ( or ’97,) so when it was announced last year that Barney Murray – vocalist and main songwriter – was leaving the band due to ill health, I was disappointed and felt the game was up for a great band. The other original members: Dugs (guitar and now vox) and Chris O’Mara (drums) thought otherwise. Too much blood, sweat and tears had been invested over the previous 6 years to just give it up now. A new line up was recruited with Dugs now on vocals and the band have been working their collective bollox off since – touring Europe, the USA, crashing vans, going to jail and having Topper from the Clash sitting in on the drums one infamous night.

The 5 track promo was put out for the recent US tour with the Dropkick Murphys and basically it’s a one-take in the rehearsal studio deal so it wouldn’t be very fair to nit-pick against the two proper studio releases. So how do the new band sound you ask? Well, the familiar – banjo – tin whistle – accordion – sound is still there making the trade mark Blood or Whiskey racket but the band are playing much harder then before. It’s as if though they have changed from being a traditional band playing punk to a punk band playing trad. Dugs tries hard on vocals to pull of the Barney Murray voice but sounds too strained. Hopefully the vocal chords improve when they get to the recording studio proper.

The Electrics: Irish Invasion

This 2001 compilation revisits two of the Electrics earlier and more obscure efforts — their second release BIG SILENT WORLD (1993) and their follow-up THE WHOLE SHEBANG (1995). While it would seem to be a laudatory effort to unearth these forgotten songs, this, frankly, is a hastily conceived compilation with little consideration given to the quality of song. For instance, of the 12 tracks contained here a whopping eight were culled from the less polished, more pedestrian sounding BIG SILENT WORLD, while a mere four were taken from what might still be their finest effort, the Buddy Miller produced, THE WHOLE SHEBANG. Furthermore, it’s practically criminal to think that perhaps their greatest, most rollicking song “Killicrankie” (from SHEBANG) was omitted. Thankfully Pila Music included their rendition of the Violent Femmes “Oh My (Jesus Walking on the Water).” Still, if you’re vaguely familiar with the Electrics but haven’t heard their early material, this collection serves as a suitable (but not ideal) introduction to their formative period when their development from album to album was quite evident.

Review By Dave Sleger

The Kissers: Fire in the Belly

One of the most pleasant surprises in the first half of ’04 is the debut studio release by Madison’s the Kissers. Drawing equally from traditional Irish and American folk music as well as smarmy, melodic alternapop, they come across as an extension of (and perhaps a more focused) Boiled in Lead. With a bulk of their melodies emanating from instruments like fiddle, banjo, accordion and mandolin the folk component is duly addressed but the driving rhythm section and strategic electric guitar adornments affirms the modern rock affinities of this group. “69 Cadillac” is a prime example of the Kissers as a killer Blasters-styled rock & roll band while “American Folk Song” and “Scum of America” firmly places this band amongst the more clever and innovative of the modern folk-rock brigade. A thoroughly enjoyable recording FIRE IN THE BELLY rivals the eclectic recordings offered up by Reptile Palace Orchestra, (another Madison-based outfit) as some of the most original music emanating from the state of Wisconsin.

Review By Dave Sleger

The Saw Doctors: Live in Galway

It’s a risky proposition when a band with a reputation as an exceptional concert act decides to release a live album. Will the dynamics transfer onto CD? Will the audience participation and enthusiasm contribute to or detract from the recording? Having had the privilege of seeing the Saw Doctors in concert at roughly the same time as receiving this CD I must conclude that the live show is preferable to the live CD but not by much. Touching on all of their popular songs, LIVE IN GALWAY’s home audience is probably most familiar with the songs of the Saw Doctors. In addition to the crowd’s approval and familiarity with the songs, lead singer Davy Carton appears to be equally stoked and enjoying the event. His good-natured giggling escapes throughout the show, particularly in the opening tracks “N17,” “To Win Just Once” and “Bless me Father” indicating that this band truly enjoys performing and appreciates their fans. Noticeably absent are any selections from their most recent studio album VILLAINS? For some reason that album didn’t seem to connect with the same passion as earlier recordings. As usual guitarist Leo Moran carries the tunes with his nonchalant yet deft style of playing. Making his recording debut on bass guitar is new member and ex-Waterboy Anthony Thistlethwaite. With clear and well-balanced sound this CD is indeed the next best thing to being there

Review By Dave Sleger

Lehto & Wright: A Game of Chess

From Minneapolis Lehto & Wright are consummate purveyors of classic British and Celtic folk-rock championed by such luminaries as Fairport Convention, Horslips and Steeleye Span. On this, their third offering, they more specifically pay homage to folk guitarist Martin Carthy and rocker Richard Thompson. Steve Lehto’s inspired and meticulous playing makes him the ideal musician to handle both the acoustic and electric genius of Carthy and Thompson respectively. Bassist John Wright’s lightening-fast yet fluid playing revives the spirit of classic rock bassists like Chris Squire, Dave Pegg and even John Paul Jones. His heartfelt playing is the perfect fit for Lehto’s rock & roll and acoustic roles. “Siege of Delhi” and “The Silver Tip/the Merry Tailor/Thompson’s Reel” are stellar examples of this duo’s ability to rock as convincingly as their ‘70s mentors while the gentle pieces like Carthy’s “McVeagh” and Lehto’s “Antietam” reveals their impressive versatility. The 15-minute “Ten Long Years” is a progressive folk-rock tour de force as it includes instrumental passages that recall Steve Hackett and Led Zeppelin among others. Drummer Matt Jacobs rounds out their sound helping to give Letho & Wright a full but not overbearing presence. If Tempest, Fairport and classic Jethro Tull are to your liking A GAME OF CHESS should satisfy.

Review By Dave Sleger

Polkaholics: Six-Pack

This six song EP is the fourth independent release by this Chicago trio. It’s comprised of previously unreleased material performed in the unmistakable and unapologetic punk/polka style of the Polkaholics. Heavy on electric guitars and 2/4 rhythm, this ain’t no joke. The punk and roadhouse adaptation of traditional and original polkas have become their trademark and surprisingly they’ve endeared themselves to mainstream polka fans as well as punk and alternative rock fans. Guitarist Don Hedeker and friends are rapidly making a name for themselves throughout the Midwest and beyond. To sum up their sound imagine the Ramones performing “Who Stole the Kishka,” “Happy Wanderer” and “In Heaven There Is No Beer” on just guitar, bass and drums. Yeah, this is polka but it’s rock & roll as well. Like Brave Combo, the Polkaholics will shatter all narrow, preconceived notions dealing with polka’s inherent “un-hipness.”

Review By Dave Sleger

Joe Hurley: Live At Loser’s Lounge

Joe McGinty and the Kustard Kings join Rogues March front man Joe Hurley to celebrate 10 years of show at “The Losers Lounge” and to pay tribute to some of the finest 70’s Rock’n’Roll ever recorded – Bowie’s “Rock’n’Roll Suicide”, Costello’s “I Want You”, “Maggie May” and more. It’s all very “Exile on Main Street” sounding – boozy and sleazy. The Quireboys would kill to come up with something as authentic and with as much feel as this.

Bovver Brigade: Demo

Sweden’s Bovver Brigade have big pairs of Doc. Martins and even bigger Mohawks and who play catchy sing-a-long, shout-it-out street punk. Similar to my ears as “Boys on the Docks” era Dropkick Murphys, Stiff Little Fingers or the Street Dogs.

The songs on their 8 track demo are strong and the recording quality good and it’s nice to see the bands doesn’t take themselves to seriously as well. Shite’n’Onions types will enjoy the token Irish song, “Whiskey Day, Whiskey Night” with its off key tin whistle (recorder?) and the “Pirate Song.”

Across the Border: Was Bleibt (The Best of Across the Border, 1991-2002)

This two-disc set is the swan song for one of Germany’s most talented folk- punk outfits, Across the Border. Featuring an intense rhythm section, AtB derives most of their melody from accordion and fiddle with electric guitar tastefully complimenting their sound when needed. This collection judiciously samples their many releases from 1995’s HAG SONGS through 2000’s SHORT SONGS, LONG FACES. The most frequently represented album (with eight tracks) is CRUSTY FOLK MUSIC FOR SMELLY PEOPLE, which is no surprise because it is arguably their finest effort. Additionally, several previously unreleased tracks are included, the finest being “Glad to Know” and “Chasing the Tail.” The only obvious omission to this retrospective, in my opinion, is their fiery rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” If you enjoy melodic folk-punk coupled with issues oriented lyrics a la The Levellers or Oysterband, Across the Border will be to your liking.

Review By Dave Sleger

Fiddler’s Green: NU Folk

Like Lady Godiva and Across the Border (both reviewed in Shite ‘n’ Onions) Fiddler’s Green is another of Germany’s well-kept secrets in the realm of folk-rock and Celtic-rock. Having recorded steadily since 1992 NU FOLK is their ninth full-length album and is characterized by (what’s become their formula of) cleverly recreating traditional pieces coupled with infectious original alterna-folk-pop songs in a manner like Great Big Sea. Unlike the previous two German bands listed, Fiddler’s Green’s music is much more polished, as is their CD packaging. Very slick indeed. I’ve always preferred their treatment of traditional material and on NU FOLK there are several such songs to choose from. Among the best are “Tarry Trousers” which employs an Eastern meets hard rock vibe and “Johnson Boys/Cotton-Eyed Joe,” two American folk songs given new life courtesy of this group from Erlangen. Curious readers are well advised to also listen to Fiddler’s Green’s first three albums FIDDLER’S GREEN (1992), BLACK SHEEP (1993) and KING SHEPHERD (1995) for a delightful trio of punk, ska and Celtic infused folk-rock recordings.

Review By Dave Sleger

Brave Combo: Polkasonic / Kick-Ass Polkas

After an impressive body of work with the Rounder Records label this esoteric polka-infused ska, Tex-Mex and all around pioneering punky, worldbeat band signed to Cleveland International for a one-off, POLKASONIC. And after years of wowing the initiated with their virtuosity and eclecticism, Brave Combo finally received the recognition they deserved when in 1999 this album earned them a Grammy in the polka category. While this album perhaps stresses the polka more than previous efforts, Brave Combo is much more than “just a polka band.” Combining Latino, European and American folk with polka and alternative rock rhythms has garnered them a devout, yet varied fan base. Their electrified polka is best exemplified on “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” and “Purple Haze – The Jimi Hendrix Polka,” the latter being yet another example of guitarist Carl Finch’s knack for reworking rock classics to fit their offbeat template. After a lone recording for Rounder in 2000 Brave Combo returned the following year to release a second title for Cleveland International, KICK-ASS POLKAS. Recorded live in Cleveland this recording revisits many of the tried and true Combo tunes of yore like “Hey Baba Reba” and “Flying Saucer.” And in expected fashion they tackle the classics again with a revved up rendition of “Wooden Heart.” The strength of this band is their ability to attract both polka aficionados and those who would never otherwise admit to enjoying this much-maligned form of music. These two releases are an excellent introduction to this Texas-based group and if your preconceived notion of modern day polka is less than lukewarm perhaps Brave Combo can change that.

Review By Dave Sleger

Black 47: New York Town

Granddaddies of the whole Celtic-Rock scene in the US, B47 are back with their first studio album in 5 years – since the disappointing “Trouble in the Land.” “New York Town”, is Larry Kirwin’s attempt to compose a musical picture of his adopted home town, pre and post 9-11. I know on the sleeve Larry mentions Joyce and Ulysses and asks not to be compared but I do see a strong comparison in concept to Joyce’s “Dubliners” – a collection of unrelated short stories set in the general vicinity of a city (Dublin) in and around the same period of time, touching on the lives of ordinary people. On “New York Town”, like Joyce, Kirwin paints a picture of the lives of real people – the hero’s, the villains and working stiffs that make NYC the greatest city on the earth. Musically, NYT is B47s least “Irish” sounding release. B47 have always been the sound of the Irish ghettos of Queens and the Bronx sticking its toes into the pool of ethnic sounds of the rest of the city. But on NYT, B47 have taken that plunge head first and enveloped themselves in the sounds of the city as a whole. The additions of guests like David Johansen (New York Dolls) and Christine Ohlman adds some spice to the mix but on the other hand highlight the weaknesses in Larry’s own voice.

The Vice Dolls: Die Trying

I hate to be negative but “Die Trying” by the Vice Dolls was one difficult CD to sit through. Think bad 80’s trash metal ala a bad version of Nuclear Assault with screeching female punk vocals crossed with punk. Not my cuppa of tea at all.

Sammy Horner: Acoustic Celtic Praisen

On this, his fifth solo outing, Electrics lead singer Sammy Horner continues in the same fashion carved out on the previous four. While the Electrics have slowly blossomed into a crack Celtic-rock outfit with declarations of faith sometimes understated, Horner’s solo albums leave little for debate. He is an unabashed Christian whose music is intended to edify and entertain the believer. That doesn’t mean that the non-believer cannot appreciate his work as he’s developed into a top-notch songwriter brimming with irresistible melodies. This album is what it is – an acoustic collection of songs of worship and praise. Several of these selections have appeared in more amplified versions on previous releases like QUAICH and T-ALLT RUADH. On this recording singer and guitarist Horner is joined by longtime Electrics member Jim Devlin on guitars and mandolin and recent Electrics addition Tim Cotterell on fiddle and all manner of acoustic instruments (mandolin, mandola, banjo, melodeon, etc.). Cotterell, incidentally, also plays with the left-leaning Tricks Upon Travellers, which must surely cause him to reconcile his beliefs in one direction or the other. Regardless, Sammy Horner and friends have created tasteful music that will hopefully appeal to those who might otherwise dismiss it as too preachy or “churchy.” As a longtime fan of Sammy Horner’s music (both solo and with the Electrics), and as one who is secure in my beliefs I am not at all hesitant to give ACOUSTIC PRAISE a categorical thumbs up.

Review By Dave Sleger

Lady Godiva: Zooperation

With the exception of groups like early Mahones, the Skels and the extraordinary Greenland Whalefishers, perhaps the finest posthumously Pogues-influenced act is this German septet, Lady Godiva. On this, their fourth release, they’ve continued their quest for a more guitar-heavy sound but not at the expense of their Irish folk affinities. Their duo-electric guitar attack is complimented nicely by mandolin, banjo, accordion and tin whistles, and other than “Peggy Lettermore” and “Springhill Disaster” they’ve written all of the songs here, most in quite convincing fashion. No small feat for a band that only a few short years ago experienced great difficulty utilizing the English language effectively. Lead singer Andreas Beckman’s German accent is quite obvious, which is to be expected, but it doesn’t hinder the listening experience in the least. While this album is highly recommended to those who enjoy Irish-influenced rock & roll, it is also recommended that one purchase Lady Godiva albums in descending order, being particularly mindful of the fact that their debut Whisky You’re the Devil contained some dubious English usage. That said, their earlier records were arguably rawer sounding and more “pub-worthy” than their 21st century releases.

Review By Dave Sleger

Amadan: Hell-Bent 4 Victory

Hell-Bent 4 Victory…I knew it was coming, I just had no idea it would be this good! What a surprize! I have to admit, I haven’t seen Amadan in quite awhile, so I had no idea what was in store for me when I first played the album. The sound is much more full on “Hell-Bent 4 Victory.” In fact, the album sounds nothing like their debut release: “Sons Of Liberty.” Somewhere down the line, The Amadan guys decided to plug in a guitar, and turn the volume up. They also added a full drum kit, a little bit o’ banjo, and some squeezebox action to their sound. It’s amazing to hear how much they’ve grown from their debut album to now.Truth be told, I’ve been listening to it for a full week, and can’t wait to see them live again. (They’ll be opening up for The Real McKenzie’s next month.)

The entire album is solid, from track 1 all the way to 12. Don’t believe me? go check out the Amadan website! Click on the two minute samples and you’ll soon be in complete agreement with me. Ten bucks says you’ll say “holy shit” at least once, possibly twice, and if not I still won’t pay up because i’ll know you’re lying! I’ve been trying to decide which songs stand out more than others, and it took me while, considering all of them are equally as good. I like the upbeat “Nevr 9to5” or the guest vocals of Paddy Buckley (f/Grafton Street & The Pagan Jug Band) on the semi-traditional “Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shores”. “Rhyme Of Remittance Man” was another standout. I also need to mention the last song on the album; “Horseshoes & Handgrenades”.

So there you go, a fan-fucking-tastic album that was recorded right here in Portland. Enjoy!

Review By Brian Gillespie

Burn Witch Burn: Burn Witch Burn

Maybe this is old news, maybe not. So if you haven’t heard of Burn Witch Burn, please continue to read. If you already have heard of them, give yourself a nice big ole pat on the back, and smile big like a jackass on a sugar-high, because you beat me to it. The band no longer exists. If fact this album was released back in 2000, so i’m only four years late. (Not bad, considering Shane MacGowan hasn’t released a studio album in SEVEN years!) Anyway, Burn Witch Burn hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at the time of it’s release, it was the newest project of Rodney Linderman. (More on him later)

In this reviewers opinion, Burn Witch Burn, sounds like they have been up in the Appalachian Mountains since the 1800’s and waited for the new milleneum to come down and record the album. Picture early Americana meets Celtic flavored Gothic folk, only to be topped off by the dark, mystical vocals of Vienna Linderman. You can’t help but feel the hair on your neck raise up a notch.The mandolin playing is top notch. Actually, the entire album sounds fantastic, with only one exception. Rodney Linderman’s vocals. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… Shite’n’Onions Webzine talking smack about a band? Well, for the record, i’m not talking smack at all. I’m just explaining to you that I’m so used to the lead singers previous work in other bands. You see Rodney Linderman is probably better known as Rodney Anonymous, from The Dead Milkmen! That’s right, The Dead Milkmen. Let me go on to tell you that Burn Witch Burn doesn’t contain any lyrics about smoking bananna peels, and it doesn’t mention anything about things that only eat hippies, (Great song by the way) but that’s the problem. After listening to The Dead Milkmen for so many years, I keep expecting Rodney to suddenly go off and start talking about big lizards in his backyard. Don’t let this stop you from checking these guys out! There are some incredicle tracks on this album. It’s worth a serious look to those of you who enjoy some original music.

Review By Brian “Bitchin’ Camero” Gillespie

Polkaholix: Denkste!

First of all it must be noted that this band should not be confused with the Chicago-based band similarly dubbed the Polkaholics. Surprisingly both bands play roughly the same type of music – which is rocked up polkas sometimes bordering on punk. This German outfit from Berlin is more esoteric than their Windy City counterpart. With an emphasis on brassy arrangements the Polkaholix sneak Klezmer, gypsy, Cajun and Celtic influences into their polkas, in a manner not unlike that of the Texan eclectics, Brave Combo. Sung exclusively in German the lyrics don’t necessarily need to be understood in order to appreciate this group’s energy and impeccable musicianship.

Review By Dave Sleger

Novi Sad: Europe’s Other Side

After more than a decade of proffering quirky and arty pop-rock (with a hint of psychedelia in recent years) Austria’s Novi Sad switched gears with their sixth release, Europe’s Other Side. This largely acoustic collection of original modern folk songs is characterized by the exotic voice of Evelyn Blumenau (who at times resembles Dolores O’Riordan) and Klaus Schuch’s poignant songwriting and deft guitar playing. Drummer Manfred Scharf is featured, more often than not, on accordion contributing immensely to the overall mood of this album. At times the lyrics are impossibly dense, thus difficult to grasp, other times they are beautiful in their stark simplicity. For instance, rarely has a more tangible sound coupled with a graphic visual been created than on the haunting title track. It gives the listener a true glimpse into the underbelly of deep Eastern Europe. This album contains moments both moving and jarring and sometimes overly simplistic in content. Quite frankly, it also contains confusing moments that seem to make little musical or lyrical sense. In context, however, this is a well-crafted and artistic piece of work that should satisfy those looking for more plaintive and reflective qualities in modern folk music.

Review By Dave Sleger

The Sandcarvers: This Time Around

From Southeastern Wisconsin the Sandcarvers perform classic-styled rock infused with Celtic adornments. Much like Wolfstone, Brother and perhaps Tempest on a bad day, the Sandcarvers are clearly a rock band injected with subtle bodhran, recorder and guitar accents to suggest the Celtic-rock designation. They do provide interesting takes on traditional pieces “Drowsy Maggie” and “Danny Boy.” The latter begins in expected syrupy fashion but quickly morphs into an upbeat fresh take on that infinitely overdone folksong. The best original piece is “Old Man” which begins with a didgeridoo introduction by Hamish (of the band Brother) and is accompanied by an infectious recorder refrain. The Sandcarvers are a decent rock band but if they want to make a greater impact on the sub-genre known as Celtic-rock they’d be wise to add another instrumentalist like a fiddler or accordionist and do away with the electronically reproduced bagpipe and harp sound.

Review By Dave Sleger

Nivola: The Easy EP

Nivola (sounds like a bloody girlie shampoo eh?) are a 3 piece indie rock band from Bray, Co. Wicklow Ireland. The dirtiest town in Ireland, or so they claim, but that’s a disputed title if ever there was one. In the short period of time the band have been together (8 months or so) they’ve managed to make it out to the Whisky-a-go-go in LA and supported Brooks Waterman of Bad Religion and produce this excellent demo. “The Easy EP” is 3 tracks of old school alternative rock, huge slabs of sonic guitars juxtaposition with some laid back jazz sounds and powerful vocals – the kind of stuff that used to come out of Ireland so regularly before the Celtic Tiger came along a gave birth to a bunch of bastard boy-band cubs. Maybe this is the start of the cull.

The Electrics: EP/Radio Singles

Kind of a Cliff Notes guide to The Electrics here, with five tracks spanning the history of the band. Four being from the more straight ahead rock’n’reel days, including the very beautiful spiritual ballad “The Blessing”, kind of like Clapton, but good. Along with one cranked up, Big Country, meets The Sex Pistols, meets Slade masterpiece – “At All”, from the forthcoming CD, “Old, New Borrowed and Green”. If the remainder of the CD is anything like “At Al” and “Killiecrankedup” from the S’n’O CD then it will be a must get.

Far from Finished: 3 Track Demo

Very strong street rock from Boston based Far from Finished, reminiscent of early DKM, Swingin’ Utters and especially the Street Dogs. The Street Dogs comparison is especially relevant as the demo was produced by ex-Street Dog guitarist Rob Guidotti. Guidotti has subsequently join FFF as a permanent member.

Neck: Here’s Mud In Yer Eye!

I going to keep this quick as everything on “Here’s Mud In Yer Eye!” has previously been covered in Shite’n’Onions. Basically Neck have taken the best of the “Necked” CD plus the “Field of Athenry” single and a couple of newies (“Spancil Hill” and “To Win Just Once” – by the Sawdoctors!!!), remastered the shit out of them and release it over in Germany on the Core-Tex label. The sound is top notch and its the best thing Neck has done to date. Recommended, if you can get your hands on it.

Daghdha: Start of the Mile -Demo

I wasn’t expecting much from this demo, judging the book by the cover – home made sleeve, CDR disk and pictures of a bunch of very young looking guys. So when I finally slapped the disk into my CD player and hit play, I was very pleasantly surprised. “Start of the Mile” is top notch straight ahead no frills Celtic-Punk, very reminiscent the classic St. Bushmill’s Choir EP from a few years ago – you know the sound; The Clash playing the Pogues, check out the cover of “London Calling”- good stuff – Joe Strummer would have been proud.

Jackdaw: Jackdaw

You might remember a live review I did of Jackdaw a few months back, where basically I said I had heard them on CD, wasn’t that impressed and moved on. Live, Jackdaw kicked my ass big time so now it’s time to give the CD another spin and another listen. Two spins and I’m impressed, four and I’m hooked. This thing is as infectious as a Chinese hooker with SARS. Jackdaw play Stones, Who and especially early AC/DC (I’m talking about “High Voltage” and “Dirty Deeds”) inspired rock’n’roll and combine it with fiddle and Bagpipes and the lyrical imagery of the gritty, working class Irish-American enclave of South Buffalo, NY. Outstanding tracks include – Molly, Billy Brown, Hogjaw and Patrick Pearse’s – Mise Erie (I am Ireland.) An excellent CD and a still better live show if you get the chance.

Street Dogs / The Dents: Split CD/7”

Abbey Lounge Records is a spin off label of The Abbey Lounge, a dive venue in Somerville, MA that helped launch Street Dogs. Street Dogs contribute 2 tacks, “Savin Hill”, which in my opinion is an absolute punk classic (if punk can be classic that is) and the previously unreleased “One of a kind”, which is good. Female fronted The Dents provide the other 2 tracks of high energy punk’n’roll.

The Peelers: Liquordale

Somewhere on this Web site is a review of the first show where I ever saw the Peelers at the Celtic Ray in Punta Gorda. My only criticism of the band at the time was that they had a dearth of original material — their debut CD “Boots and Suits” contained only one original song. With their new CD “Liquordale” featuring 11 songs, including eight new originals, that’s less of a problem now.

“Liquordale” is in many ways the band’s real debut CD, and it’s a very good one. Starting with the slow ballad “Sweet Mary of the Bog” and seamlessly slipping into the much faster “The Glen Will Rise Again” and “Katie, Bar The Door”, you can see what the boys from Glengarry County are capable of. If you wanted to see how the band has grown musically, you could compare the version of “Meet You At The Bottom of a Bottle” on this release with that on “Boots and Suits”. It’s the same song (obviously), but is a richer sound.

The songwriting is very good too — one complaint of mine about some bands in the Celtic punk/rock genre, even some bands I enjoy. A previous review of “Boots and Suits” on this site said that the Peelers were a band to keep an eye on. Their new CD puts a little more urgency to that suggestion.

Review by Rob “Hurricanes suck ass” Shore

Flogging Molly: Within a Mile From Home

Just like previous Flogging Molly releases, “Within A Mile From Home” grabs you by the bollocks, picks you up off the ground, and slams you hard against the wall with a sonic blast of fury that only those Molly Malone floggers could produce. Yes indeed, the latest FM release is here, and i’m already black & blue from the bruises. I’m sure you already know, but the first time you hear these guys, your jaw will drop, and your head will explode. That first listen is simply too much for the body to handle. You just have to buck up, and soak it in. It takes a few listening sessions just to describe them. “Within A Mile From Home” is no different than any other FM album. It does not disappoint. It WILL kick your ass, and you will love it.

“Within A Mile From Home” contains 15 tracks that in this reviewers opinion should be played from start to finish with no interruptions, and no excuses. You’ll enter the audio journey with determination, and you’ll exit with a sense of satisfaction only a handful of albums can deliver.”Within A Mile Of Home” is one of those albums. From the first track, “Screaming At A Wailing Wall”, to the final effort, “Don’t Let Me Die Still Wondering” It’s all there. From the euphoric laughter, to the bitter tears, and from the doubt, to the the unconditional love, that only the beauty of life can bring. Lead singer, Dave King, still has that desperation in his lyrics & his voice, but just not as raw and vulnerable as they were on the first album “Swagger”. These lyrics are fine tuned, and more calculated. Obviously, they were written by a proud soul who has seen the peaks, and the valleys of life, and doesn’t mind telling you about it.

Musically, Flogging Molly have grown since the last release. (Am I hearing Cajun and a little Appalachian in the mix?) They are still as tight as a broke Scotsman during tax season, and still as diverse as a refugee ship arriving at Ellis Island in the 19th century. Speaking of ships, nautical fans will enjoy tracks such as the pirate anthem, “The Seven Deadly Sins”, and “Queen Anne’s Revenge” with Nathen Maxwell (bass) up front with the vocals. There’s the ballads such as the tearful track, “The Spoken Wheel”, or “Whistles The Wind”, that’s sure to have you signing along with the chorus. I should also mention the kick ass track “To Youth (My Sweet Roisin Dubh)” that was previously released on the latest Warped Tour 2004 Compilation. Then you’ve got yourself a duet on “Factory Girls” with Lucinda Williams sharing the microphone.

All in all, you can never tell people what the standout tracks are on a Flogging Molly album. Certain tracks affect people in different ways, but one things for sure, there’s always something for everyone on FM albums. (which can explain the crowds at their live shows.) Speaking of shows, I’m looking forward to the upcoming tour. I’m looking forward to sharing the Devil’s Dance Floor with fellow Flogging Molly fans from every walk of life. I’m looking forward to picking you up off the floor, only to have you return the favor. I’m looking forward to packing a pub full of chanting Flogging Molly fans. I’m looking forward sharing an evening with an amazing band that continues to amaze me with a new release every couple of years, and maybe that’s the riddle. To simply look forward to the next time Flogging Molly will grab you by the bollocks, pick you off the ground, and slam you hard against the wall with a sonic blast of fury that only Flogging Molly could produce. We’ve all felt it right? or is it just me? Hell, I dunno, what do I know? Cheers to ya!

Track listing:
Light of a Fading Star
Tobacco Island
The Wrong Company
Tomorrow Comes a Day to Soon
Queen Annes Revenge
The Wanderlust
Within a Mile of Home
The Spoken Wheel
With a Wonder and a Wild Desire
Don’t Let Me Die Still Wonderin’

Review By “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie

Bates Motel: Caffatine

I love Cornwall’s Bates Motel, they are one of those bands that its impossible to put into a box. A sort of post-Nirvana version of the Levellers crossed with Thin Lizzy. Probably the only band that can pull off playing both Metal and Folk festivals. Caffatine is Bates best release to date, with must hear tracks like “Shine?”, “Wounded Knee”, “Radical Point of View” and the masterful “never say never again.”

Will Dailey: Goodbye Red Bullet

Will Dailey is a multi talented young guy – singer, songwriter, producer and label owner. Everything about Goodbuybullet is very well done; very polished. Imagine a young-non-grumpy Van Morrison or a cool Dave Matthews (wasn’t the Dave Matthews shit spraying story great though.) The kind of CD you can use to impress your girlfriend and still not feel like a sap.

Aiden Crossey: Where Old Ghosts Meet

I’m a little embarrassed here; I’ve been sitting on “Where Old Ghosts Meet” for almost 6 months. Why? Because I felt I didn’t have the depth or knowledge of pure traditional Irish music to write a proper review. Sure I can fake it with a ballad group but with a collection of the purest Jigs and Reels (and the occasional Song and Waltz) I’m stuck, and the sad thing is I had every opportunity to be exposed to some of the best trad music around (many of the teachers in my school were serious players and people like banjo player, Eamon Coyne ( were a few years ahead of me) but of course I was more interested in Iron Maiden and the like.

Aiden Crossey is a former Belfast punk from back in the day and now a long time London resident – a former member of one of Neck’s early line up’s. “Where Old Ghosts Meet” is sixteen tracks of serious traditional Jigs and Reels broken up by poems and songs. Now if you’ve just discovered Irish music through Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys and you’d like to explore it more then I’d recommend you check out greatest hits packages by either the Clancy’s or The Dubliners but if you really want to explore the richness of pure traditional music you won’t go wrong with “Where Old Ghosts Meet” (and it’s all done with a punk D.I.Y. spirit.)

Warblefly: Crashing Through the Trees

Although their third release, this is my introduction to this British folk-rock band. For someone who’s written almost exclusively about folk-rock on the world stage for the past several years, I must admit to being pleased to have finally heard this band, while at the same time, chagrinned for having not heard them sooner. Warblefly shoots out of the starter blocks in fine form with “Folk Ruts,” an alternative rocker in classic Levellers style with aggressive rhythm and melody-driven fiddle. “New York Gals” is a more guttural, punkish piece barely resembling my first exposure to that song – Steeleye Span’s 1975 version from COMMONER’S CROWN. “Devil in the Kitchen” is a deliberate instrumental very British sounding while “Going Home” incorporates a “down home” bluegrass or mountain style. “When the Rain Came” again recalls the Levellers but don’t let those two Levellers references give you the idea that Warblefly is purposely patterning themselves after that classic Brighton-based band. With their mix of British folk and punk flavored with occasional American folk stylings, and their attention given to the instrumental passages, Warblefly are true originals. Politics notwithstanding, “The Ballad of Ali Abbas” is the highlight of this album, with its rapid-fire rhythm and vocals coupled with an incredible melody and juxtaposition of electric guitar and folk instruments. It wasn’t until after several listens that I realized that I didn’t even agree with the sentiment of the song, but I didn’t care because it’s such a great piece.

Review By Dave Sleger

The Go Set: a Song of Revolution

I hate the phrase “kick ass” but it’s the only description that fits The Go Set. ‘Sing a Song of Revolution’ not only kicks some serious ass, it kicks butt and arse and whatever they call ass/butt/arse in Australia. Take classic Bon Scott era AC/DC, the celt-ism and social conscience of Roaring Jack and the bagpipe punk fury of The Real McKenzies along with 20 cans of Fosters and you’ll get an idea of what The Go Set sound like. “Sing a Song…”, was recorded two days so it’s raw, loud and powerful. Recommended to those who like their guitars turned to 11 and the bagpipes turned to 12.

The Ruffians: Live at CBGBs

Bet yah didn’t know that CBGBs stands for “Country, Blue Grass and Blues”. CBGBs started out its life as a live music venue that specialized in all three of those forms of music. The Ramones changed all that (and the face of rock’n’roll) forever. So it’s not that unusual for a band with a squeeze and Irish folk influences to be recording a live CD at the birth place of punk. But, don’t worry punk purists, the Ruffians rock hard enough to do “the Brudda’s” proud.

The Ruffians have come a long way since their 2002 debut EP, “The Naked & Proud”, and have developed into a very fine band indeed with a very distinctive original sound – squeeze box and wall of distorted guitars. “Live at CBGBs” is a testament to the band.

Now can somebody tell me what OMFUG stands for?

Josh Lederman y Los Diablos: The Town’s Old Fair

Boston’s self proclaimed “King’s of the Irish wedding band scene” actually hail from bordering Somerville, a small and gritty, working class ethnic city that also happens to be one of the hippest places to live in America (Utne Reader) and all this with out losing it’s way to yuppies and gentrification. One could argue that Los Dablios embody the very essence of Somerville.

Los Dablios take Josh Lederman’s melancholy and boozy, romantic lyrics and vocals inspired by the MacGowan and Waits school of songwriting and combine it with American and ethnic roots-rock with a strong Irish and Jewish overtones – of course – and at times touches of Jazz, Cajun and Big Band. Someone once described this as folk punk for nerds and computer programmers – a perfect description.

Rum Runner: Association

Living somewhere in the same neighborhood as The GC5, and The Swingin’ Utters, Rum Runner make you want to pump one fist in the air, while your other hand is busy grasping a pint glass and spilling beer all over yourself. Obviously influenced by Shane MacGowan, Rum Runner doesn’t sound like your run-of-the-mill Celt-Punk band. Probably because they aren’t your run-of-the-mill Celt-Punk band… They are a streetpunk band first and foremost, with celtic, oi, and slight blues influences hidden underneath the thick layer of vocals, guitars, drums, and bass. (also include a little banjo, & harmonica)

Calling Calgary, Alberta home, (Fuck Tampa Bay-that puck was IN the net!) these guys have just gotten started. The best part about Rum Runner is just about everybody will enjoy their music. Punks, Skins, and even those goofy Celt-Punk-Drunks, are all invited to the Rum Runner party! Recently releasing the debut album “Association” on Long Shot Records, Rum Runner should have a bright future ahead of them. I loved the album from the 1st track, “Association” to the 12th track, “Streams of Whiskey” (Yes, THAT Streams Of Whiskey”.) But, overall my favorite track was the Nipple Erectors cover “Nervous Wreck” It sounded just a great as the original. (It even starts out with that unmistakable MacGowan laugh…you know, “KKRRRSSSHH” The one that sounds like Sesame Street’s Erine)

Track listing :
1. Association
2. Nervous Wreck
3. Whiskey & Wisdom
4. Torn Ten Dollar Bills
5. Balls
6. Street Credibility
7. The Green Sod
8. 10.30 In The Morning
9. Dragonflies
10. Nagelbett
11. Industry
12. Streams Of Whiskey

Review By Brian “Beer-Spiller” Gillespie

Ricky Warwick: Tattoos and Alibis

Irish born, Scottish raised, Ricky Warwick is the former front man of 80’s metal band, The Almighty. The Almighty looked tough and sounded tougher. A mix of Motorhead, AC/DC and SLF. The big problem with The Almighty was that they were signed to a major label over in the UK, who put constant pressure on them for “the hit”, diluting what could have being one of the great metal bands and when the hits didn’t come, The Almighty were given the short shift and told to eff’ off

Tattoos and Alibis is Ricky’s first solo effort and it’s stripped down acoustic root’s rock, kind of like Mike Ness on “Cheating at Solitaire” – all steel guitars, whiskey bottles, gruff vocals and broken hearts. Unfortunately, the big problem here again is the eff’ing A&R guy whispering in Ricky’s ear, “We need a hit.”

Luke Kelly: Thank You for the Days

For those of you in ignorance of Luke Kelly, he was the finest interpreter of traditional Irish and folk ballads bar none, both as a member of the Dubliners and on his own – ask Dave King or Shane MacGowan and I think they’ll second me.

“Thank you for the days” contains 9 (out of 10) previously unreleased versions of very well known Luke Kelly standards (McAlpines, Rocky Road, Galway Races etc.) recorded in the rough and ready in some very primitive studios back in the early ‘60’s and recently rediscovered in some dusty folk archives during research for a Noel Pearson film on the life of Luke Kelly, “Luke”. The 10th track, “Thank you for the days”, recorded in the early ’80 just before Luke’s death seems a little too polished and out of place in this collection, a great song though.

Probably not the best place to start discovering Luke Kelly (The Luke Kelly Collection is a much better starting point) but it’s a strong collection that show cases the raw power and passion of Luke’s voice.

The Compulsions: Laughter From Below

Not really S’n’O material here but since this 6 track demo/EP from NYC’s The Compulsions found it’s way into the S’n’O mail box, here goes…..

The Compulsions are a late 80’s sounding, early 70’s influenced sleazy rock’n’roll band. The most obvious influences being The Faces, The Stones, early AC/DC and “Electric” period, The Cult. The band is based around guitarist/vocalist Rob Carlyle joined by various pick-up and guest players including one of W. Axl Rose’s hired and fired guns. With the success of The Darkness, I think a huge hard rock revival will be coming to your airwaves soon.

Wake The Dead: Buckdancer’s Choice

Buckdancer’s Choice is a really clever concept. Take traditional Celtic jig’s and reels and combine them with the music of The Grateful Dead to create one of the most original tribute CD’s around. If I actually liked The Dead I’d really love this CD, but I don’t.

Jon Gorey: Indeed!

Indeed! Is Jon Gorey’s 3rd full length release (I think) and it’s a collection of stripped down, amped up rockers played with the passion of a signer-song writer that merge seamlessly with the more personal acoustic songs that betray Jon’s roots on the Boston folk circuit. Red Sox fans should check out “The Scarlet Letter” about the optimism and unending disappointment of life as a Red Sox fan. Very good, in a rocking, kind of mellow way.

Seanchai and the Unity Squad: Rebel Massive

Seanchai and the Unity Squad started off as a hip-hop side project for Black 47’s uilleann piper and sometimes vocalist, Chris Byrne, when he released “C’mon Ya Boyz In Green” back in 1994, to celebrate the Republic of Irelands World Cup campaign in the US that year. eMC Byrne became Paddy-a-go-go (along with Eileen Ivers and Pat Maguire) and subsequently Seanchai, as the others moved onto other projects.

While I liked the early releases, I never really rated Celtic-Hip-Hop as anything more then an enjoyable novelty. So when “Rebel Massive” arrived I was certainly curious (this is the first Seanchai release I’ve heard since the debut.) On paper, the whole concept of the Unity Squad just doesn’t work – a rapping, uilleann pipe playing Irish-American ex-cop with a passion for reggae. A Dublin born, female DJ with an angelic voice and finally a big riffing NYC guitar player. On CD it’s pure genius. “Rebel Massive” is way more then a novelty CD, it fact it’s just a great CD, no matter what box you try and fit it into.

Must hear tracks include; the title, “Mise Eire” with Shane MacGowan and Damien Dempsey, the 2004 remake of “50 Pints of Stout” (House of Pain have been booted for the Dropkick Murphys), “New York Fenian Bhoys” (to the tune of “McAlpine’s Fusiliers”) and the absolutely must, hear incredible cover of The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” sung by Miss Rachel Fitzgerald. In fact the only song I don’t like is the plodding “We’re in Seville” – I suppose if Celtic had actually won things would have been different.

The Destroyed: Outta Control

The Destroyed were 70’s Boston punk legends, in their own minds anyway. 25 years later they have reformed and are back with 10 new songs and 10 bonus, previously unreleased tracks from the glory days. So what does a bunch of guys in their late 40’s, early 50’s playing punk sound like? Like it was 30 years ago and the excitement of first hearing the Iggy and the Stooges was still ringing in their heads – must be the Viagra.

Jugopunch: Cold/A fiver on the horses

“Trad Irish with balls”, that’s how Stoke-on-Trent’s Jugopunch describe themselves in the press pack that accompanies their new single – Cold/A fiver on the horses – and I’m not going to disagree. The three tracks presented here while strongly rooted in Irish folk like the Clancy’s also nod in the direction of fellow Anglo-Irish men, The Pogues. Think “Dirty Old Town” and “A Pair of Brown Eyes” and you get an idea of the direction the band is going in.

The Street Dogs: Back To The World

Like a blast of fresh air over that steaming pile of shit some people like to call the music industry, The Street Dogs are welcomed like an animal lover with a fenced yard, walking into the pound with a smile on their face. This has to be the greatest way to start off the new year! Hell, I was still shaking off the cobwebs of New Year’s Eve, when I stumbled down to the mailbox, and opened up a package containing The new Street Dogs album. I guess you could say I was caught odd guard. (You should have heard how loud I barked “Holy Shit” when I saw the album!) Speaking of being caught off guard, that could explain my reaction when I first heard the early demos that eventually became “Savin Hill.” All I could say for the rest of the day was “McColgan’s Back!!!”

When The Street Dogs came to town last fall, I was more prepared. It was their first time coming to Portland. Playing moments after Boston won the World Series, The Street Dogs were in high spirits, and it showed. (Hell, after the Briggs played, there was about a 45 minute break between bands… We were all downstairs in the bar, watching the game on the big screen!) I never got around to writing a concert review of that gig. (The Briggs, Street Dogs, Flogging Molly) I think I was too busy listening to “Savin Hill”… The greatest record of 2003.

Well guess what, “Back To The World” is even better!

Sticking to the same formula as their previous efforts. “Back To The World” covers all the important subjects. Sounding more polished than ever, The Street Dogs have once again, lit the fuse and blew the God-Damned roof off.

Here’s a quick teaser, until the album hits stores Jan. 25th.

1. Strike A Blow:
An assult on the current state of music. A song about bringing new life to the radio.

2. You Alone:
A song dedicated to Greg Riley A.K.A. Chickenman.

3. In Defense Of Dorchester:
Hometown pride. You can hear this one on The Street Dogs website. One of my favorites.

4. Back To The World:
Obviously the title track, “Back To The World” is a soldiers tale about the current mess in the Middle East, wishing he could get back to his wife, & kids. This one really hits home.

5. Tale Of Mass Deception:
After telling us a tale about a soldier’s story in the previous track, The Street Dogs blast our current so-called “leaders”.With a bit of the accordian mixed in for good measure, “Tale Of Mass Deception” starts out like this: “An elaborate con on the common man,
Propelled by your massive media plan.
And I can see your hostile takeover, greed and your lies.
Turning what I love, into what I despise.”
(You can also hear this one on The Street Dogs website)

6. Drink Tonight:
After the last couple of songs, it’s time to take a break and have a drink or two. “Drink Tonight” is obviously a drinkin’ song, a very good drinking song. Turn up the volume to 11, and hold on, it’s the hardest hitting track on the record!

7. Stagger:
A song about a crusty old WWII Vet sitting at the end of the bar, bitter & drunk. I can almost picture this guy.

8. White Collar Fraud:
Ever worked in an office (Or anywhere for that matter!) with a backstabbing asshole who sucks up to the boss, and does anything they possibly can to get ahead. Well, this is a song about that guy. (I hate that guy…)

9. Patrick:
Remember that guy in school that aced every test with ease, and had the whole world in the palm of his hand, only to blow it on drugs, drinking, and general fast lane living? Well, this is a song about that guy.

10. Pull The Pin:
I very well could have missed the entire point, but what I got outta this one was it’s about a guy at the end of his rope with a gernade, and he’s about to pull the pin.(Or something to that effect.)

11. Hands Down:
A real man doesn’t strike a woman. It’s about keeping your hands down, and talking about it peacefully. A real man doesn’t beat his wife. No matter what!

12. Union & The Law:
What’s wrong with being treated fairly? You knew it was coming eventually, this is a Pro-Union song giving a voice for the working man. “Union & The Law” is about exposing the current problems with “company downsizing.”

Holy shit, 3 days into 2005, and I have already heard the best album of the year! The Street Dogs will be touring this winter with Social Distortion. I’m sure you all will have tickets.

Review by: Brian Gillespie

Jackdaw: Triple Crown

I was a big fan of Jackdaws last CD – “Jackdaw” – so to be honest the follow-up “Triple Crown” is a bit of a disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a top shelf album of Celtic-Rock, it’s just that the guitars (and bag pipes) seem to be missing in the mix. Imagine Malcolm Young being replaced by The Edge – yeah you get my drift.

The Duncan McFarlane Band: Woodshed Boys

My weakness has always been English folk music. Everything from English folk-rock, to traditional English folk, I know next to nothing! (Some people would say Ewan MacColl is English folk, but like Duncan McFarlane, his folks were from Scotland.) ,Anyway, I’m quite thankful a little ditty came in the mail from Leeds to help me expand my musical horizons. To explain the Duncan McFarlane Band’s sound goes something like this: Roaring Jack walks into a pub & meets Warblefly for a few pints, then decide to leave together to watch a Fairport Convention gig. It also helps that Alistair Hulett, (Roaring Jack) contributes to the vocals on half a dozen tracks. Add on top of that, contributions from ex-Battlefield Band member, Alistair Russell, and you have your self some talented Alistairs here.

Even though this is the debut album from the band, Mr. McFarlane has been around since the early 70’s. In 1974 he formed a pub-rock/college circuit band called Luigi Ana Da Boys, and caught the ear of the late, great, John Peel. The song “Feeling The Ceiling” received some decent airplay on BBC Radio One. After playing in numerous bands, such as: Sharp Practice, A New Opera, & Another Way. Duncan retired from the rock circuit in 1994, (Due to back problems) and within a year started attending various folk festivals.(No need to carry amps!)

The album, “The Woodshed Boys” contain twelve tracks, & the running time clocks in a roughly sixty minutes. Stand out tracks include: “Bring ‘Em Down”, “The Woodshed Boys”, “Canadee-I-O” & “A Jug O This”. The album can be heard on the BBC, and other radio stations across Britain. (So when you’re not listening to the Shite’n’Onions radio station, tune into BBC and check them out.) For more detail on the lyrics to “The Woodshed Boys” & other albums, check out the website

Review by: Brian Gillespie

The Popes: Release The Beast

Just a quick review here. The Popes (Without Shane) have released a double album. Disc 1 is live. Disc 2 is the previously released “Holloway Boulevard”. Don’t know about you, but I already have the fantastic “Holloway Boulevard” and I have a few bootlegs of The Popes, so this album wasn’t exactly a priority. If you never got around to buying “Holloway Boulevard” the first time around, now is a good time to do so, cuz with the additional live album it’s more than worth it.

Review by: Brian Gillespie

The Peelers: Liquordale

I know this album has previously been reviewed here awhile ago, but it’s too fucking good to only have had one S’n’O review! One of the biggest surprises all year, I will simply call “Liquordale” an epic album. I knew after hearing their 1st mini-album “Boots & Suits” that these guys were good, but damn, I had no idea they’d be this good!! On “Boots & Suits” they mainly played traditionals and random Pogue covers. You could tell that The Peelers were a talented band still trying to develop their own distinct sound. I remember there was an original on that album that had me begging for more. Well, my wish has finally been granted.

“Liquordale” Opens up with one of my favorite instruments, the Uilleann pipe. Imagine bowing your head and taking a moment of silence while you listen to the smooth sound of the elbow pipe, when suddenly, on “The Glen Will Rise Again” the galloping drums kick in and next thing you know, you’re running halfway up the wall, and slamming into everything in sight! Your dog starts barking at you, and snaps at that favorite hard-to-find Pogues T-shirt you’re wearing, before you finally calm down and return to a normal sane level of reality, and remind the dog to only bark & snap at the jackass neighbor kids across the street who enjoy asking me on a daily basis what I think of that watered-down pop-punk band, A Simple Plan…(For the record, They fucking suck, now quit talking to me, and wait patiently for your fucking school bus!) Err–Sorry ’bout that! Back to the album review…

The third track, “Katie Bar The Door” Has more or less, a nautical theme regarding coffin ships bound for Australia. Another standout is “The Sons Of Molly” obviously a Molly Maguire song that blends into “Catharsis” that for the record contains some kick ass fiddle work that had me stomping my foot so hard, I had to board up the hole I made in the floor. The thing I really noticed about the new version of “I’ll Meet You At The Bottle Of A Bottle” is how quickly these guys are becoming a top-notch Celt-Punk band. It probably helps that the main man behind the band, Dave Barton, was raised on a steady diet of The Pogues & The Clash. Not to leave any of the other band members out, the entire band sound about as tight as a ducks ass floating down some white water rapids 3 minutes after those jackass neighbor kids gave it an alka-seltzer.. Err– sorry ’bout that…

The Peelers do a great version of the traditional ditty, “The Little Beggarman” I especially enjoyed the squeezebox. On the tenth track, “Savannah (You’ve Been Good To Me)” I couldn’t agree more! After spending some time down there recently, I agree completely! (No, I don’t work for the Savannah Chamber Of Commerce, but if you’ve never been to “The Jewel of the South” before, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!) On St. Paddy’s Day, Savannah grows from 200,000 to well over 450,000, claiming to hold the nation’s 2nd largest (per capita) Paddy’s Day festivities. It might just be southern folklore, but fuck it, the place is great anyway. Lyrically, my favorite track has to be “Plastic Paddy” Which is basically a song about being a drunken plastic paddy. Great stuff indeed.

So there you have it, The Peelers great album “Liqourdale”. An album so great it had to reviewed twice for Shite’n’Onions! If that doesn’t give you at least some sort of clue that this album is worth it, then maybe you should smack yourself silly in the face with a bat that has a crooked rusty nail sticking out of it and read this review again. Better yet, let me do it. Because after I raise the Jolly Roger flag & chase those jackass neighbor kids away from my front lawn with an 18th century cannonball blast I attached to my porch, I’ll be all warmed up & ready to go!

Review by: Brian “Grumpy Neighbor” Gillespie

Toad In The Hole: Alleyway Rover

One thing about the Pacific Northwest (& anywhere else for that matter) that always irritates me are all those new-age, tarot card reading bands, that dress up like medeval pixies and play “celtic” music. I don’t care about star signs, & colored rocks, or whatever. I care about the music, I care about the jigs, reels, & ballads. Maybe I’m just an asshole, or maybe I just can’t stand Tarot cards.Either way, I’ll worry about that later, because I should probably start reviewing the album “Alleyway Rover” I received from the band Toad In The Hole.

Now I may be wrong, but I think the band Toad In The Hole, may be named after the traditional dish of the same name that contain sausages in a Yorkshire pudding mix. Hailing from the Eugene, Oregon, Toad In The Hole play the type of music I do enjoy… A high-energy mix of rowdy post-Poguesish originals, traditional jigs and reels, and heartfelt ballads. Formed in 2001, Toad In The Hole’s second album, “Alleyway Rover” is a very fine album indeed. The sound is produced just about right, and the music itself flows along nicley like a continuous flow of whisky into a pint glass. Now if that description doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will.

I haven’t had enough time to review the lyrics, but some common subjects include: drinking, Ireland, Scotland, Cuchulainn, & have I mentioned drinking yet? I hear some Robert Burns influences in songs like “Raise A Glass” and “Bonnie Doone” (A Burns original). A little “Sally MacIellanne” influence in “Kiss The Ruddy”. I should mention that in the medley “Warhorse” you’ll hear a nice little ditty from Flogging Molly’s “Black Friday Rule”. So as you can tell, there’s some great stuff here. I agree with the lyrics in the last track “Druthers” I won’t give away the story, but I will say that I can’t stand bourbon! Click here for the lyrics to “Druthers”

Musically, Toad In The Hole is top-notch. I could sit and listen to them for hours, and the next time they roll though town, I most likely will! Some of the traditionals include: Congress Reel, Hunter’s Purse, After The Battle Of Aughrim, Bunch Of Keys, Red-Haired Boy, Toss The Feathers, Mick Maguire, and many, many more!

Here’s what the bio on their website says: The compelling voice and style of founder and lead singer Matthew Hayward-McDonald bring a unique presence to the stage. The accessible and finely crafted lyrics are enhanced by accomplished vocal accompaniment that often utilizes four-part harmony. Guitarist Jason Kelly (Used to play in the Eugene ska band, The Varicoasters, and in a jug band where he met Matty) plays with driving rhythm and technical finesse that serves as a solid base for this lively music.Kathryn Claire sings and plays fiddle with grace and charm that draws the audience in and leaves them spellbound. This is beautifully complimented by the nimble fingers of Liz Myers whose musical versatility includes soaring tin whistles, flute and crowd pleasing bagpipes. Driving the rhythm is bass player Jon Dresdner (Used to be in the band Sodajerk) and bodhran player Joel Kenney. Dresdner’s rich tone adds fullness to the sounds and his dynamic bass lines create the backbone to the music. Kenney’s energetic and lively playing is as fun to watch as it is to hear. The high energy and versatility of Toad in the Hole may at one moment bring you to tears and at the next moment have you dancing a jig with the best of them.

Check these guys out. It’s some quality stuff. If someone has a copy of their first album, “Piss Away Your Charms” lemme know!

Review By: Brian “Pissin’ in the Bourbon” Gillespie

Saint Bushmill’s Choir: Saint Bushmill’s Choir

I’ve been waiting for something new from Saint Bushmill’s Choir since 2000, when they released their first EP (That I know of) “Give ‘Em Enough Booze”. It only contained a 5 songs, but it did the job as far as I was concerned. Containing former members of Seattle punk bands such as The Gits, Subvert, Alcohol Funnycar, and The Pinkos, Saint Bushmill’s Choir is a band that quite simply enjoys playing the songs that they play. In fact, if you’re ever in Seattle and get a chance to seem them live, make sure you do it, because they only play a couple of times a year, and you’ve seriously gotta be in the right place at the right time. Known to the world as a “Clash band that likes to play Pogues songs”. The Choir formed back in 1994 (Before celt-punk was cool) on a drunken dare, and by all accounts, I’d have to say the mission has been accomplished. So far, they have only been responible for 15 injuries. Oh yeah, for those of you keeping track, the total drinking time of the album clocks in at 51:31, and contains 14 fan-fucking-tastic tracks.(4, or maybe it was 5 of them previously appear on the now hard to find “Give ‘Em Enough Booze” EP)

Check out their website more answers to this “mystery band from “Capital Hill” Don’t forget to click on the big red letters in the middle of the page for bonus coverage. By far, this is my pick for album of the year. In fact, the Saint Bushmill’s Choir are one of my all time favorite Celt-punk bands. They just do everything so perfectly, they don’t try to hard to sound “ethnic” or “Irish” or whatever, and even better than that, they don’t care what you fucking think either way.They’ve been though the whole game before in previous bands. It’s really quite simple, they just enjoy having a few pints & playing traditional songs the way they wanna play them, and what else can possibly top that?

1.Molly Maguires
2. Goddamn Shame
3. The Secret Set
4. Mineshaft
5. Three Jigs
6. Whiskey In The Jar
7. Just To Get Away
8. The Greenland Whale Fisheries
9. Three Polkas
10. The Leaving Of Liverpool
11. Black & Tans
12. Sam Hall
13. John Hardy
14. The Foggy Dew

Review By: “Barnacle” Brian Gillespie

Enter the Haggis: Casualties of Retail

Like much of the folk-rock emanating from Canada, Enter the Haggis combines a smorgasbord of influences like country, bluegrass, Scottish folk and alternative rock. This is their fourth release and most assuredly won’t disappoint their growing legions of North American fans. Similar in sound to Slainte Mhath, Enter the Haggis incorporates a heavier electric guitar and bass than their compatriots. In fact, at times their aggressive electric vibe brings to mind what Muse might sound like if they included folk instruments. Listen to “Gasoline” and “Martha Stuart” for insight into this outrageous analogy. “Minstrel Boy” will likely appeal to folk-punkers given its fuzzy, distorted rhythm guitar. More importantly Enter the Haggis should satisfy both alternative and mainstream Celtic-rockers alike as it forwards elements from across the Celtic-rock spectrum. CASUALTIES OF RETAIL is definitely one of the finest and most interesting releases of 2004.

Review By: Dave Sleger

Fairport Convention: Over the next Hill

By strictly unofficial count this is Fairport’s 30th studio release. While not their most impressive release in recent years (in fact, it could be said that this is their most lackluster effort of the last 15 years or so) this album is still reflective of the perseverance and willingness to adapt that this band has adopted for decades. For those inquisitive few who’ve heard the name repeatedly but were never formally introduced to this band, Fairport have been in existence since 1967 and in ’69 introduced to the world a brand new genre of music called British folk-rock via their seminal album LIEGE AND LIEF. That, in turn, opened the door for Irish folk-rock, thanks to (then) fiddler Dave Swarbrick’s inclusion of the occasional Irish jig in his repertoire. Well, 35 years have since passed and this band is still legit. This may not be to the liking of strict alternative and punk folkers, as this is more accurately described as acoustic-based folk rock. However, every release in Fairport’s vast catalog is noteworthy simply because they have never slipped into the dark and outlandish abyss that many of their contemporaries have experienced in desperate efforts to appear relevant. Anchored by longtime bassist Dave Pegg and guitarist Simon Nicol, Fairport has most recently added multi-stringed instrumentalist Chris Leslie to the family. He compliments fiddler Ric Sanders nicely and has filled the role of chief songwriter as well. Highlights in clued the instrumental “Canny Capers,” the upbeat “Willow Creek” and the country-tinged “Westward.”

Review By: Dave Sleger

The Town Pants: Weight of Words

“Weight of Words” is the third outing by Vancouver based Celtic-Folk group – The Town Pants – and the first with new fiddler, Virginia Schwartz (if there is ever a case of Beauty and the Beasts it’s here). The music is still the same spunky and infectious Irish/Scottish influenced folk as before but now with the addition of Virginia we have a touch of an alt-country to the sound. Standout tracks included – “The Old Landlord”, “Breakfast with St. Swithin” (originally by Jimmy George) and the very mushy “Ships made of Wood”.

McDermott’s 2 Hours v Levellers: Disorder

Brighton based McDermotts Two Hours are 80’s UK folk rock legends and also one of the most influential bands on the scene – so influential infact that The Levellers are constantly tipping their hats collectively in McDermotts direction. During the 90’s the band went on hiatus but in 2000 Levellers bass player Jeremy Cunningham persuaded McDermott’s signer Nick Burbridge to start recording again under the McDermotts Two Hours moniker. Joining Nick was fellow McDermott, fiddler Tim O’Leary and Levellers, Jeremy Cunningham and Charlie Heather (drums).

Disorder is the third collaborative with members of The Levellers (though the first I’ve heard) and it’s a very polished and passionate effort, the music is solid Celtic influenced folk-rock with a distinctly English (I don’t meant that in a bad way at all, The Levellers defined the English folk-rock sound and McDermotts defined the sound of The Levellers) fokie feel. The lyrics are very political yet never preachy though always thought provoking. Good stuff

Neck: Here’s Mud In Yer Eye! – A Pscyho-Ceilidh Retrospective

If you haven’t heard Neck yet, now is a great time to start. In fact this latest Neck release “Here’s Mud In Yer Eye!” makes a perfect introduction to these “County Holloway” locals. Formed by lead vocalist/guitarist, Leeson OKeeffe, (Who at one time was a member of Shane MacGowan’s Popes), NECK are a London-Irish band playing their own brand of Celt-Punk described as “PSYCHO-CEILMDH” Their songs reflect 2nd-generation Irish life, (Known to some as Plastic Paddy) Neck combines the rip-roaring spiritual abandon of Irish songs and tunes with the vibrant electric guitar driven energy of punk rock, (Regular Shite’n’Onions readers might know a little about this genre.) Speaking of the term ‘Shite’n’Onions’, The name of the website itself comes from a Neck song off the original “Necked” album. The term has been described as James Joyce’s fathers’ favorite quote!

If you have heard Neck before, you’ll want to know that the new album “Here’s Mud In Yer Eye!” mainly contains previous releases.(With the exception of “Spancil Hill” & “To Win Just Once” The difference is they are produced WAY BETTER than earlier efforts. And in my opinion, is the main reason for releasing this album. In fact, just think of those previous albums, as mass produced demos! Another great thing about “Here’s Mud In Yer Eye” is the County Holloway slang” glossary located inside the liner notes.

“Here’s Mud In Yer Eye!” is a toast given while drinking, as favored by Willie O’Keefe!
“Jackey” is a name for the people who habitually drink alcohol in the street in Scotland!
“Sassenach” is an Englishman!
There’s plenty more. Reason enough to check it out, right?
As you can probably tell, Neck is a favorite among the Shite’n’Onions staff, and that should be reason enough to familiarize yourself to the London-Irish Psycho-Ceilidh! I don’t really have anything else to tell you. I’m honestly too busy listening to the album…

Track Listing: (Complete with classic definitions provided by: Barnacle Brian Gillespie)
1. McAlpine’s Fusileers (Irish manual workers tale)
2. Loud ‘n’ Proud ‘n’ Bold (A song about drinkin’ in Dublin)
3. Spancil Hill (This is a great version of the traditional ditty)
4. To Win Just Once (Let’s hear it for the underdog!)
5. Here’s Mud In Yer Eye! (Cheers! Ya Bastards!)
6. The Maid Behind The Bar / The Sally Gardens (Another traditional)
7. Suzie MacGroovie (Can’t cheat on that lass back home)
8. I’m A Man You Don’t Met Everyday (Yep, the Jacobite song made popular by The Pogues)
9. A Fistfull Of Shamrock (Worse than getting hit by brass knuckles)
10. Hello Jackey! (AKA-What’s up, ya Scottish lush, get outta the bloody street!)
11. Topless Mary Poppins (A twisted Neck nursery rhyme)
12. The Feilds Of Athenry (This is the best version around.)
12.A Ole Hooley (Ole, Ole Ole……football fever, only 2 more years ’till the cup!!)

Review by: Barnacle Brian “Jackey” Gillespie

Paddy Goes to Holyhead: Acoustic Nights

On their tenth album this veteran German folk-rock band revisits some of their old favorites with new singer Mark Patrick at the helm. Evidently Patrick felt the need to rework those old tunes (made popular by previous front man Harald Schmidt) in an effort to gain acceptance with the disgruntled fanbase. Risky move perhaps, but if this revamped band is to carry on the tradition of this top-notch German pseudo-Celtic folk-rock outfit they will have to connect with the fans and prove that the past is not forgotten. Patrick’s squeaky-clean vocal style is in stark contrast to Schmidt’s gruff, boozy style but Patrick does an admirable job particularly on the gypsy-inflected “Johnny Went to the War” and “Lady from Athina,” thanks in part to fiddler Jens Kempgens meticulous playing. Their rendition of the Charlie Daniels classic “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is the highlight, mainly due to it’s unlikely inclusion. Why this band opted to include two tracks “Troubadour” and “Cornerstone” (which appeared on their 2002 Mark Patrick debut, RED-LETTER DAYS) is beyond me. Those songs haven’t changed at all in the two years since their release. “Nice” sums up this album accurately. It’s neither dismal nor exceptional and far from the best work Paddy Goes to Holyhead has produced over the years.

Review by: Dave Sleger

Shooglenifty: The Arms Dealer’s Daughter

The fourth album by this Scottish outfit continues in much the same fashion as their previous. Moody, rhythmic and highly textured instrumental music influenced by traditional Scottish fiddle tunes and judiciously accented with other worldbeat snippets. The brassy “Nordal Rumba” might be the most engaging selection on this album as it is accompanied by the Salsa Celtica horn section giving it a slight island feel. Actually, this record contains far less of the reggae, bluegrass and Mid-eastern motifs that peppered their previous efforts. However, Shooglenifty remains one of the more interesting bands in the loosely defined Celtic-rock arena.

Review by: Dave Sleger

Slainte Mhath: VA

Nova Scotia’s Slainte Mhath blends straightforward renderings of traditional Scottish tunes with modern applications like sampling, loops and groove-laden rhythms. With virtually no singing Slainte Mhath allows their impeccable instrumental prowess convey their message. Alternating between traditional and modern music ideals they are driven by a duo of fiddler players, Boyd MacNeil and Lisa Gallant, Scottish piper John MacPhee and keyboardist Ryan MacNeil who injects a jazzy and sometimes R&B flavor into their repertoire. Flanked by a funky rhythm section of drummer Brian Talbot and bassist Jamie Gatti, Slainte Mhath is North America’s answer to Shooglenifty and Tartan Amoebas. While their traditional approach is by-and-large flawless and can easily rival that of the genre’s major players, this band is at its best when it permits the collision and intermingling of styles.

Review by: Dave Sleger

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