September 3, 2010
Stick To Your Guns is the name of the debut CD from Morgantown, West Virginia’s The Gentlemen, and a complete and accomplished sounding release it is. Oh, yeah, and a damned rocking one at that!
The Gentlemen are comprised of eight members armed with drums, tin whistle, bagpipes, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, mandolin and fiddle. Placed firmly down the Dropkick Murphys/Real McKenzies end of the Celtic Folk-Punk spectrum, with aggressive song delivery and chanting choruses. But these Gentlemen seem to place more emphasis on the inclusion of the traditional instruments, either as the main melody vehicle, (as with the bagpipes in War Time in North London, and the fiddle in Belfast Boy,) or simply as dancing on top of the power-chord-laden rock majority of the CD.
In fact, the strength of The Gentlemen’s sound on Stick To Your Guns lay in this balance. The trad. instruments are not assigned only to lead positions and ornamentation, but blended right in with the thick of things. Their pervasive influence gives the music herein a stronger, but more natural, Celtic feel.
Stick to your Guns has many highlights to it. The above mentioned “War Time in North London” and “Belfast Boy” are both excellent songs, but “All Alone” might be my favorite on the disc. It has a really slippery and lazy shuffle beat and a great percussive guitar riff that combines with the pipes for a sound that I just really dig.
For my money, the original material on Stick to your Guns is a just bit stronger than the two traditional covers included, (although listening toThe Gents’ rendition of “Come out You Black and Tans” is very convincing! I really felt like they were calling out for a throw-down!)
The Gentlemen do throttle back occasionally, if only somewhat, and with dramatic results. “Under the Rowan Tree” is a nostalgic mug-swinging singalong accompanied only by acoustic guitar and tin whistle.
I do wish that the band included their rendition of John Denver’s Country Roads on their debut, however. It really asserts The Gentlemen’s W. Virginia roots, captures their sound perfectly, and seriously kicks ass. (And the video for it on their MySpace page is simply excellent.) Hopefully,The Gentlemen will include this number on their next CD, which I will certainly be in line for!
Stick To Your Guns is a very thorough and mature sounding release for a debut. And The Gentlemen are definitely a band to keep an eye/ear open for.
Highly recommended stuff!
Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel