If the 6-song “Psycho Ceilidh” is considered an EP, and “Here’s Mud in your Eye” is essentially the same as a remixed “Necked,” than an argument could be made that “Sod ‘em & Begorrah” is the second actual release from the band Neck. As such, it proves to be a strong sophomore release.
As in all of their previous CDs, one of Neck’s strongest identifying characteristics is the arrangement. The band plays in many layers; the solid, rock rhythm section is sharply accented by the fiddle, banjo, and occasionally, the Uilleann pipes, providing an elaborate and consistent backdrop for O’Keefe’s vocals. Marie McCormack’s wandering whistle completes Neck’s sound with its continuous exploration of the melody.
The new CD maintains a level of rowdiness just a notch or so above the band’s usual approach with the electric guitar occupying a more prominent role in the majority of the songs than it has in past releases. Although this obscures the clarity of the vocals in some cases, it provides the overall feel of the disc with a fuller, edgier sound
“Sod ‘em…” does, however, contain a few slower numbers, (“May the Road Rise With You,” “Caoineadh/Blood on the Streets,” and an Uilleann pipe-infused “I’ll Take Me Back.”) These are approached with a degree of emotion that really draws out the passionate capacities of Leeson O’Keefe’s voice, and makes these songs standouts on the disc.
Of the traditional tracks on the disc “The ‘Psycho-Ceilidh’ Mayhem Set” is an eight and a half minute long set of traditional jigs and reels that starts innocently enough, but soon snowballs into an intensity akin to that of riding a rollercoaster holding an armful of cats! (As soon as this track ended, I caught my breath, and played it again! It’s that good.)
Bean-counters should be pleased as the disc clocks in at a hair shy of one full hour from start to finish with no weak “filler” tracks included.
As a second release, it clearly surpasses the dreaded “Follow-up” stigma that plagues many second discs. As a fourth release, it continues to combine great song-writing with excellent orchestration. However you count it, “Sod ‘em and Begorrah” is a CD that any visitor to the Shite ‘n’ Onion site should have.
Review by: Christopher Toler, The Blathering Gommel