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The McGillicuddys: Kilt To Death (CD)
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Ya know, every time I turn my head away, another Celtic punk band from Canada, delivers a sucker punch! Right when we here at Shite'n'Onions think we have covered them all under our collective radar, another band sneaks up from behind with a giant left hook! That's what The McGillicuddys did. They snuck up on me with their debut album, "Kilt To Death" and knocked me over with it. Upon first glance at the album, I notice they cover a Roaring Jack tune, "Buy Us A Drink". I also notice they cover songs such as "Nancy Whisky", and "The Leaving Of Liverpool". With the vocals sounding a tad bit like Mike Ness, The McGillicuddys deliver a nice smooth overall sound. The band hailing from "very-British" Victoria, B.C., sure make it a point to show their Celtic roots proudly! (I'm jokingly knocking their hometurf, that features the snotty 3.30 tea-time, and those Union-Jack(off) double decker buses with all those tourists driving around the harbor. It's my way of getting them back for that musical sucker-punch!)

Uh, sorry, back to the review! The lyrics in this album are something to point out. With the song, "The Ballad Of Will Munny" we get some very impressive lyrics covering the trials and tribulations of Will Munny. (the guy from the film, "The Unforgiven") Or the song, "The Shakes" with it's booze related theme. The McGillicuddys have a nice thing going on in the lyric department. Musically, they are on top of the game as well. On the original, "The Lady Owen" they break into the traditional dandy, "Rattlin' Bog". As far as traditional tracks on this album goes, my favorite has to be "Father Jack's Favorite" (maybe they should change it to "Father Jack & Brian G's Favorite"? Uh, never mind. The thought of me sharing anything other than a confession with a Priest is pretty fuckin' scary!!)

If I had to complain about anything, it'd be the overall production. I can tell they sound better than the album allows them too sound. It's not that the production is bad, it's just that it could be better. I guess that means I'll have to cruise up to Victoria, to see a live show, and harass all the "tea-timers" sippin' away. Or maybe I'll just piss on the side of those "Union Jack(off)" double-decker buses after a McGillicuddy's gig!

Review by Brian Gillespie cover

The Nips: The Tits of Soho (CD)
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Arguably after The Undertones London based The Nips were the best of the late 70's pop-punk bands (though Shane claims they were shite.) Formed by a young punk about town by the name of Shane MacGowan (Shane in those days was infamous in London as the guy who had his ear bitten off at a Clash gig) along side bass player Shanne Bradley (later of The Men They Couldn’t Hang and the title of a Pogues b-side). The Nips combined the sounds of the first wave of UK punk with Teddy Boy rock’n’roll and an infectious pop sensibility.

“The Tit’s of Soho” is the first time anything by the Nips has ever been released on CD (and a somewhat dubious release it is I believe) and it contains their complete discography including their 4 singles, studio demo and a twelve track live show recorded back in 1980 (released in 1980 on vinyl as “Only the End of the Beginning”). The Teddy Boy inspired “King of the Bop”, the poppy “Gabrielle” and the recently covered by the DKM, “Vengeance” all stand the test of time. The live tracks are of a bootleg quality (then again that’s what this CD is) and sometimes of an atrocious quality but it’s the only way your ever going to hear’em. cover

Scott M.X. Turner & The Devil’s Advocates /The United 32s: Snipers in Derelict Houses (CD) Return To Archive

“Snipers in Derelict Houses” is a benefit CD for the Pat Finucane Center a civil rights watchdog in Ireland (for more on the PFC click here) from two of political punkster Scott M.X. Tuners musical projects. The first of those bands being the supercharged Celtic Punk band, The Devil Advocates and the other is Scott’s acoustic/trad group The United 32's. The CD is a nice contrast of rocking, in your face Punk with heavy Irish overtones offset against The United 32s traditional sounds. Snipers... is possibly the most political CD ever to touch on "The Troubles" and that includes everything the Wolfe Tones ever did, almost a musical version of the CAIN project if you can imagine that. Highlights include the beautiful, “Days of Heaven’, the spoken word art rock of “British Architecture in Ireland”, the cover of the Pogues “Young Ned of the Hill’ with it’s reggae undertones and the explosive cover of Phil Coulters “The Town That I Loved So Well”. cover

V/A: ATTICUS ...dragging the lake. II (CD)
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I was excited to see a package from SIDEONEDUMMY in my mailbox when I got home from work today. S1D is one of the best of the big indie/punk labels out there at the moment. Home as you know to such fine bands as Flogging Molly and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones so I expected what ever was inside was going to be good. Seeing “Atticus ...dragging the lake. II” my excitement certainly dropped off - didn’t I review volume I not to long ago? A fine collection of the best of MTV punk but not a CD I ever listened to again. I quickly scanned the track listing (26 tracks on all) hoping maybe there was something rare/unreleased from Flogging Molly. Nothing. Then I saw it. Track 6, Dropkick Murphys doing the “Fields of Athenry”. Slammed the CD in the player, cranked the volume and hit play on track 5. “Fields...” is given the classic DKM treatment, it’s loud, guitar driven with tons of bagpipes and a chorus that sounds like the whole of Lansdowne Road is joining in. Great, great stuff. The rest of the CD is the same MTV punk fare, not bad but nothing I’d listen to again (the Bosstones excepted). Buy this CD for the Dropkicks., you won’t be disappointed. It’s also a low price CD so think of it as a CD single with an addition 25 tracks.

Street Dogs: Demo (CDR)
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First things first – I am an unabashed fan of the Dropkick Murphys early material. The early seven-inch singles, “Boys on the Docks” and “Do Or Die” represented to me a refreshing working-class view of modern American life, all mixed in with a healthy dose of parochial Boston pride and a streetwise sensibility. I still feel they are great additions to the American Oi and punk scenes.

Once Mike McColgan left and the band expanded into a larger group, adding mandolin, whistles, bagpipes, etc, the two eras essentially became two different bands – one, an American streetrock/Oi! outfit and the other, a more Pogues-style romp – and I remain a fan of both, although I prefer the early material by quite a bit, and one reason is because of McColgan’s unique vocals.

Mike is back (with original DKM drummer Jeff Erna as well) with his new band, the Street Dogs and this 7 song demo. Does this material reach the heights McColgan achieved with DKM? Eh…. No. But in places, in parts, it’s close. Those of you familiar with the early songs know Mike is a damn fine songwriter, and “Road of the Righteous” “Do or Die” and “Caught in a Jar” remain some of my all-time favorite DKM work. This demo is the vein of old school McColgan tunes like the aforementioned songs (no Irish stuff like “Caught in a Jar.” Best to leave that to the already over saturated Irish punk scene anyway) and “Front Seat” and “Take It or Leave It.” Fans will recognize the same stylings in these tunes –SLF-style sing-a-longs - but it seems to be missing the ‘hardman’ edge that Mike had when he was a member of the Dropkicks. It’s still punk rock, but just not as heavy and chest-poundingly proud sounding. Not nearly the Oi! influence of old. But still - It’s good. Mike’s familiar vocals are very much the focus. Not quite as powerful as the old-style, but still unique and sure footed nonetheless. The band, Rob Guidotti on guitar and for this release, Bill Close on bass, provides capable back up and catchy three-chord punk rock to keep things rolling throughout.

Lyrically, the demo deals with life in general – relationships, fights, dreams lost and day-to-day life are all here and are presented honestly, no punk rock anarchy fantasies here. Real life subjects handled intelligently. Highlights are “Justifiable Fisticuffs” which will inevitably be compared to “Barroom Hero” although it is completely different and tells the tale of being a diplomat until that no longer works – “you’ve got to know when enough’s enough” Mike wails. My favorite cut is probably “When it Ends” an anthemic tale of a relationship’s end and kind of propels along like “Tenant Enemy Number One” did. “Cut Down on the 12th” is another favorite and is a cool sing-along.

All in all, a good demo and well-worth checking out. Not up to the old DKM standards yet, but with some solid improvements and a bit of fire, these guys could be very good.

By Sean Holland

The Spunk Lads: G.M.T. (CD)
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The Spunk Lads are the original UK punk band! Formed in early '76 and inspired by the underground sounds coming out of America at the time (Iggy and the Stooges, The New York Dolls and of course the Ramones) and combining this with the Dub, Reggae and Ska sounds from the Jamaican streets of London and a love of 60's Brit pop. The Spunk Lads EXPLODED onto the mid 70's British rock scene like nothing before them.

So dangerous was their music at the time the establishment (the government, MI5, MI6 and some boring old rock star farts like Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page and Rod Stewart) conspired to destroy the band at ANY COST. Only one gig was ever played (Joe Strummer was rumored to have been bar tending that night) and only one single ever released (Johnny Rotten supposedly has bought up and destroyed every existing copy right down to the master it was pressed from. And even all copies of the issue of Sounds that ran the review - NME couldn't be bothered to review it 'cos they had dedicated that weeks edition entirely to the Yes album about to be released) before the boys were sinisterly kidnaped by rouge elements of the government intent on keeping the realm safe for the Queens upcoming jubilee celebration and protect the rights of the boring old farts to produce twaddle.

Frozen Austin Power style and shipped to Brooklyn, NY and hidden in a secret CIA warehouse, this is where the boys remained frozen till ‘01 when an accidental meltdown resulted in their thaw, revival and escape into the streets of Brooklyn. The boys are back, bitter and pissed off and have put this to vinyl and recorded the album that should have been the great British punk record.

PS I made up most the above (honest!) but if you are looking for a great punk rock record in the vein of “Never Mind the Bollox” or the debut Clash album with a ton of black humor and tongue in cheek then you’ll love this. Best songs - “Iron Lady”, about Maggie Thatchers seaside holiday and “Spunk Lads don’t Swim”, about Rolling Stones who don’t swim either.

Henry Marten’s Ghost: Ireland – A Troubled Romance: Irish Ballads (CD)
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“I am of Ireland…Come dance with me in Ireland.”

So W.B. Yeats proclaims in the linear notes of Henry Marten’s Ghost’s CD of Irish ballads. Yeats is a good figurehead for the disc itself, as both share common traits –dramatic, airy, heroic, poetic and fully of Ireland.

A talented bunch, HMG were formed by Belfast’s Padraig Lalor, who is the singer and guitarist, and Nick Gray, who was/is(?) the fiddler. They added Polish born fiddler Piotr Jordan and mandolinist Chris Knipe to the mix and off they went. Presently, Gray doesn’t seem to be performing with the band, but it seems they have added Maire McSorely as a bodhran player to the bunch. And a talented bunch they are.

As you should be able to tell by the title, this isn’t a collection of Irish punk cum rock-n-roll rave-ups, it traditional balladry at it’s finest. Along the lines of The Wolfe Tones meets Solas or something to that effect – while not as rowdy as the Dubliners, it still produces the same amount of emotion and response.

As explanation for the group’s name - Henry Marten was, as is told in the notes, an Englishmen who supported the Irish cause during Cromwell’s invasions. He was subsequently tried for treason and imprisoned. And something of the disc seems to represent him, too – seems to conjure his spirit. At times, these ballads seem ghostly, almost otherworldly, as if Mr. Marten himself placed a long gone cold hand on the music, and made it more – something that transcends a simple tune. The music of HMG raises these ghosts and images of the land itself – a land where, as the song says “legends remain” and the impossible seems possible - if you only believe…..

This disc contains 11 ballads, all done very professionally; ranking this band among the most talented of the genre, complete with that resounding sadness that cascades through these songs like a Donegal fog – a sadness that is present in all the best of the form. Favorites like “Spancil Hill” “Carrickfergus” and “Back Home in Derry” all make their mark with resplendent style that is HMG. My favorite cut is probably “The Galway Shawl.” Melancholy and haunting – this simple tale of unrealized love represents the band at it’s best – nothing is overstated. It simply is done powerfully and with much emotion. Back to the basics. I’d like to hear what HMG can do with a jig – so I’ll be investigating their other albums as soon as possible. HMG have established themselves over the years as among Ireland’s finest balladeers and this disc cements this rep. So pick this up when you are in the mood to be transported back to the Ireland of old – of tales told round the fire while banshees dance ‘round the windows, of crashing waves against rocky coasts - and find solace in the arms of the past with HMG.

By Sean Holland

Rocktopus: Something Fierce (CD)
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Now for something a little bit more mainstream then the stuff we usually review here. Maine’s Rocktopus have been mentioned more then once in the same breath as Barenaked Ladies and from my perspective I think this is a little bit unfair to Rocktopus. Sure they draw from the same well of inspiration as BNL (The Beatles and Beach Boys) but infuses much more of a rock energy giving Rocktopus a sound full of youthful vigor and an Oomph to their music that BNL never had.

V/A: Fat Wreck Chords "Fat Tour 2003 Sampler" (CD)
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Can anyone say Mall Rat??

I got this sampler at the Real McKenzies show, the sampler is a good idea, but 2 out of the 4 bands on the sampler just don't really work for me. Tracks 1 and 2 are from the no-good, power-popping Mad Caddies. The only half-decent thing is the horns, and I'll leave it at that. Tracks 3 and 4 are from Chicago's Rise Against, which is pretty good for what it is - A melodic punk band who are always on tour. I've been told these guys are straight edge, so touring with the ever-so-drunk Real McKenzies must be a total blast for those guys!! Ha! Which brings me to the best band on the sampler by a fucking mile. The Real McKenzies have a new album coming out May 20th, it's going to be called "Ooot & Aboot". A great title that contains two choice words that every single American uses to make fun of that Canadian accent. One song from the new album is "Get Lost" and sounds like Fat Mike from NOFX may have been involved. In fact I know he was.(He is always saying The Real Mac's are the best live band he has ever seen!) It's fast, & catchy, and I like it, but where's the bagpipes guys? Track 6 is "Lassie/Roamin' in The Gloamin" from 2001's "Loch'd & Loaded". The last two tracks are from The Flipsides and pretty much sounds like Green Day. Not much more to comment on after a Green Day comparison. I've got a great idea for the next Fat Wreck Chords Sampler/Tour. Keep The Real McKenzies on the bill, give the Mad Caddies, & Flipsides, the boot. Add some Swingin' Utters, maybe even some old Propagandi, or Sick Of It All.

Review by Brian "anti-emo" Gillespie

The Kissers: On A Monday Night (Promotional CDR)
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As you can see by the name, these guys enjoy The Pogues. The Kissers, who call that funky college town Madison Wisconsin home, recorded a live album at O'kayz Corral.(a local pub that recently burned down.) Containing 14 tracks (11 originals, 2 Traditional, and a cover of "The Auld Triangle"), the album leans heavy on the Celtic Rock side of things, and generally sounds like everyone involved had a great time. The album has been around awhile,(2001) I just never reviewed it because...Well, let's just say I lost the CD for a while!! After digging though random shite around the house, I found it, fired up the CD player and gave it a listen. When half of the band have music majors from the University of Wisconsin, you know those Madison locals are having a blast up there in Cheeseland. Just try not to burn down any pubs guys! The band is currently finishing up on a new studio album, so if you have an idea for a name, send it to the band.

Review By Brian "Not Another Nickname" Gillespie

Casey Neill: Raleigh & Spencer (7")
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I never heard of Casey Neill before this 7" arrived at my door and man was I missing something big. The a-side is the tradition “Raleigh & Spencer” and the b-side the Irish ballad “The Blue Tar Road”. Just try to imagine the sound of Johnny Cash with the attitude of Mike Ness and the intensity of Ed Hamell. Feckin Great!

The Mahones: Live At The Horseshoe (CD)
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It's a big year in Mahoneland. The Mahones have just released "Paint The Town Red" a collection of greatest hits, and a live album "Live At The Horseshoe" What more do you need to know? If you don't have these recordings, you damn well should! In my opinion, The Mahones are one of the top bands in my entire CD collection. If you're familiar with The Mahones, I'm sure they are one of the top bands in your collection as well.

I'll admit, I have not seen them live. Trust me, I can't wait until they head this way again, beacause I will be the first one there! Since I haven't seen them live, the next best thing for me to do is hear a recording of them live. That's what I have in front of me right now. The Mahones "Live At The Horseshoe". It was recorded on September 15th, & 16th, 2000, in the mighty town of Toronto, Canada. It's a good mix of early stuff from 1994's "Draggin' The Days", 1996's "Rise Again", and from 2001's underrated album, "Here Comes Lucky". I think only one song from the "Hellfire Club Sessions" is on it, but I could be wrong. The music is tight, the lyrics are right on, and the recording itself is clear as a bell. Nice one!

Track listing:
1. Paint The Town Red
2. Rise Again
3. Drunken Night In Dublin
4. Rose & Crown
5. Shake Hands With The Devil
6. Across The USA
7. Going Back To Dublin
8. Whiskey Devils
9. 100 Bucks
10. Drunken Lazy Bastards
11. Is This Bar Open

Review By Brian Gillespie

The Tossers: Purgatory (CD)
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This has my vote for the best Irish-Folk-Punk album of the year. Everything else I hear in 2003, will have to battle for runner-up.

That previous statement, is basically all I have to tell you. Seriously. All you have to know is The Tossers have released the best album all year. "Purgatory" blew me off my barstool the first time I heard it. (and I only had drank a single pint!) Purgatory will make you laugh out loud, and then shed a tear into your beer. It will make you jump up and dance, then toast a pint with your lads. It's an album for all occasions, social, or solo, and in this reviewers opinion, it's the strongest Tossers album to date, and should get the recognition it deserves.

Lyrically, it's bold, political, and brutally honest. Songs like "The Squall" asks bold questions about the U.S. involvement in the Middle East, (oil, anyone?) and offers honest complaints. The track "Chicago" is more or less autobiographical, and speaks about numerous social issues in South Chicago. With lyrics like "Wear your wallet like a sieve, and that's where all the gangsters live, Chicago, Chicago, it's where we can afford to live." or "I like to get my beer and sit on me front step out by the store. Hangin' out where white folks fear to tread, yeah, this is my home for sure!" In case you're wondering, South Chicago is home to one of the largest Irish populations outside of Ireland itself. (Which means, typically, & historically, it's in a rough fucking part of town.)

Musically, the album is just as impressive, with tracks like my personal favorite, "Minutes On A Screen", with it's orchestrated buildup of strings, drums, and vocals, or "Time To Go" (a speed-jig,) they leave you pounding the bar with your fist, in complete agreement. On the last couple of tracks things begin to chill out, with a solo fiddle jam, and on the song "Going Away" which was a welcome surprise. It's an old-timely folk number, relying heavy on the pluck of the banjo, and the soothing soft fiddle. It leaves you with a feeling like you're sittin' on a country porch, in the middle of a session, drinkin' moonshine, and bourbon, in yer dirty overalls.

Don't forget about the hidden track! A traditional ditty, "The Parting Glass" is played with respect, using only a fiddle, and vocals.

I finished my pint, once the album was over. As I grabbed the album from the barkeep, he said, "Once again, You walk in with a band I've never heard of, and once you walk out, it's a band I don't want to forget!" (as he scribbles the band's name on a beer coaster.)

It's The Tossers, ladies and gentlemen. The Tossers.

Review By Brian "Tosspot" Gillespie cover

Oi! n’Ast: Sandre y Fierru (CD)
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And now something from the world music section of your local punk rock music store. Oi! n’Ast are a very excellent and very original street-rock band from the ancient Celtic kingdom of Asturies (now part of modern Spain - though a place with a strong nationalistic spirit and Celtic identity - Asturies was one of the few area of the Iberian Peninsula not to be conquered by the Moors) who combine first class street punk ala The Business and early Dropkick Murphys with the riffing of Angus and Malcom Young and the traditional sounds of their homeland including Astonian Bagpipes (more melodic then the Scottish with an almost Eastern sound). The vocals are rough and gruff and in all in Astuines. I’m told the lyrics deal with Astonian culture, anti-racism and Hardcore solidarity. A great CD that would give 99% of English speaking Steet Punk a run for it’s money plus with the added bonus of something fresh and original sounding. So if you like your Punk Rock with bag pipes......

Godboxer: Pins
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“Pins” the debut CD from Boston based Godboxer is an outstanding slab of alternative rock. 7 tracks of powerful, passionate vocals, in you face guitars and a reverence for 60's rock - especially The Who - and most importantly catchy, melodic, hook laden songs. “Beautiful And Young” is a alternative radio hit waiting to happen. If you’re a fan of The Pixies or U2 at their most extreme, check this out.