The Dreadnoughts, those ballsy balladeers of Vancouver City are returned for this, ‘Polka’s Not Dead’, arriving hot on the heels of 2009’s ‘Victory Square.’
For those unaware of The Dreadnoughts, the band emerged from the ashes of Siobhan in earnest with their 2007 release, ‘Legends Never Die’. Leaving that band’s primarily Celtic shores and traveling seaward, The Dreadnoughts’ sound encompassed more of a sea shanties and nautical feel to it, while still maintaining an Irish/Celtic punk feel.
As the band sailed on, their styles shifted with the trade winds, until this, their third and most recent full-length release, ‘Polka’s Not Dead,’ which sees the captain’s lay of the tracks to have distinctly Eastern European leanings: gypsy fiddle tunes, and not surprisingly, Polish, (the title of the album is “Polka’s Not Dead,” after all!)
Oh, the shanties are still there, rest assured, (“Randy Dandy Oh,”) nestled neatly among the hyper-kinetic Gypsy-styled fiddle workouts, (“Goblin Humppa,”) a Celtic track reminiscent of the band’s earlier material, (“Black Sea Gale,”) and a blatant punk-polka track, (“Polka Never Dies.”) The other nine tracks are a little harder to pigeon hole, containing two or more elements of the above styles, (such as my personal fave, “Turbo Island,” with its great and immediately catchy chorus,) all stirred up nicely and served at a pace whirling somewhere between dervish and maelstrom.
The Dreadnoughts still come armed with their full arsenal of fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, guitar, bass, drums, and a pervasive accordion buoying the distinctive and powerful vocals of the band’s singer, (currently listed on their MySpace page as “Uncle Touchy.”)
The Dreadnoughts are not a band whose name can be used in the same sentence as the word “predictable,” (except as in contrast, like I did just there!) as they continue to blur the lines between their ethnic influences. And “safe” seems to be the one way they don’t play it.
I do find myself wondering, though, is ‘Polka’s Not Dead’s Eastern European-influence blended sound the band’s destination, or just another port of call? After all, the band does seem to be forcing an evolution of itself, but in the process creating a shipload of great tunes along the way!
Review by Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel