Wild Colonial Bhoys are the long running Celtic-rock outfit from the frozen wastes of Minnesota. Remote Ruaille Buaille is the bands sixth (I think) full length studio album though, Remote Ruaille Buaille was recorded remotely as opposed to strictly in the studio given the pandemic situation – hence the title. Musically the WCBs are straight ahead Celtic-rock with an excellent command of both the traditional and rock sides of the equation. The album is a mix of originals and standard. Remote Ruaille Buaille is a very solid release and helps the band continue to build their reputation as the best Celtic-rock band in the midwest. My favorite tracks include the traditional, Homes of Donegal, Ewan MacCall and Luke Kelly’s, School Days Over, the originals, Tragedy At Duffy’s Cut (more on Duffy’s Cut here) and Aoife.
Nips’n’Nipple Erectors are of course Shane MacGowan’s pre-Pogues second wave UK punk band. I bought Bops, Babes, Booze & Bovver originally 20 plus years ago for a lot of money when I first discovered ebay. I’m not sure of the legality of the version I bought but now the album has been re-issued on Rough Trade (300 copies on yellow vinyl) so I assume all is in order here.
The Nipple Erectors (later shortened to The Nips, probably to make the name acceptable to the powers that be at BBC) were essentially a punk – rockabilly outfit with a great sense of pop melody that released two singles during their short existence. Side-A is the Nipple Erectors side, which kicks off with the glorious punk’n’roll King of the Bop, the rocking Nervous Wreck follows (the single B-side) and So Pissed off and Stravondale Rd., N5 from the same session but not then released close out that side. Side-B is The Nips side. Private Eye is Teddy Boy rock’n’Roll dragged screaming through 1977. Gabriella (produced by Paul Weller) is a pop-punk gem and the violent Vengeance (later covered by Dropkick Murphys) is a great slab (or stab) of early punk . An early insight into the genius of MacGowan.
Just when I thought we had lost Boston to the man bun wearing, latte drinking hipster types, out of the Dorchester section of Boston comes the Shadows of Boston to reclaim the streets. These guys are the meanest looking dudes this side of Scared for Life era Rose Tattoo . Shadows of Boston are a Celtic-punk supergroup made up of former members of Boston Punk bands Dropkick Murphys (with bagpipe legend Scruffy Wallace himself), Toxic Narcotic (Ben Upton who is a fine according player), The Blue Bloods and S.O.B.
Shadows of Boston first release is a four song demo that harkens back to the very early days of Dropkick Murphys and the Street Dogs – Boston street punk (though much more Celtic then the early DKM/SD – these guys have three pipers). This is a demo so the production is a little low-fi but the quality of the songs is there. I look forward to the first official release. The demo is up on the usual streaming services.
The Dark Streets Of Love is Mahones leader Finny McConnell’s first solo effort in his thirty plus years of taking Celtic-punk to the four corners of the earth. To most people, Finny is the Mahones, so why the solo project? While The Mahones have previously done an acoustic album, The Dark Streets Of Love, allows McConnell to step outside of The Mahones and the preconceived notions of what his songs should sound like and put a different (non-Mahones) touch on his music. I’ve said it before that McConnell is a very fine songwriter but often the sheer quality of the songs gets lost behind the force of nature that is The Mahones. Here, everything is stripped down to it’s raw essence. This is McConnell’s Nebraska – in fact a cover of Springsteen’s Atlantic City (from Nebraska) opens the album. Other influences are covered too, Shane MacGowans, A Pair of Brown Eyes and Pale Blue Eyes by Lou Reed. The real strength though is McConnell’s own material previously recorded with The Mahones such as the lament, So Far Away, and the sleazy lounge lizard, Cocktail Blues. The emotional tribute to his old mate, Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip in the cover of Fiddlers Green (for Gord) is stunningly good.
- Atlantic City
- Someone Save Me
- Stars (Oscar Wilde) – Mahones
- A Pair of Brown Eyes
- New York City – Mahones
- So Far Away- Mahones
- Pale Blue Eyes
- We’re Miles Apart
- Cocktail Blues – Mahones
- Fiddlers Green (For Gord)
- Back Home (Acoustic)
Gerard Smith’s day job is being the leader of Detroit Celtic rockers, Bill Grogan’s Goat. In his off time, he is a prog rock guitar monster. What we have here on Lullabies In An Ancient Tongue, Gerard’s latest solo effort is unashamed, 1970s style prog rock. So, apologies if my prog rock references are off as I’ve not really scratched below the source of the genre and would struggle to tell the difference between ELP and King Crimson. The guitars remind me of early Sabbath or even Soundgarden while the vibe at times is a folkie Led Zeppelin. Gerard, hasn’t forgotten his Celtic roots and weaves Celtic instrumentation into tracks like Standing Stones and The Storm. Lovers of Horslips will really enjoy Lullabies.
I came across Dan McCabe recently, on YouTube performing a stunning version of the old standard, Spancill Hill, recorded in his bedroom. That video took me down the YouTube rabbit hole and I discovered more and more videos he had put online as he waited out the pandemic lockdown in Ireland. The YouTube videos have led to Dan’s debut release, Songs for Ireland (The Lockdown Laments), a live acoustic album of mostly Irish traditional folk ballads and some more contemporary standards. The cover of Rainy Night in Soho is really great. While the album is fairly low budget (almost DIY), Dan McCabe has a powerful voice that seems to channel the sound and spirit of the late Dubliner, Luke Kelly.
Check him out, you wont be disappointed.
While upstate NY based band, 1916, have been around a few years, I’m not overly familiar with them. Revolutions, is their fifth full-length release and the band actually started out way back in 2006 as a duo and expanded to full band by 2010. Musically, I hear fast punk’n’roll meets psychobilly overlaid with traditional Irish influences (tin whistle and mandolin) giving 1916 a strong sense of melody – I’d wager Social Distortion are an influence on top of the usual Celtic-punk suspects. There is a nice cover of the Irish ballad, Grace. In all, a very solid and original sounding release. I look forward to digging deeper into the 1916 back catalog.
Even though Dropkick Murphys may have rebranded to “The Dropkick Murphys” this is still the same band of Boston scally punks we know and love. Dropkick Murphys have kind of reached that AC/DC plateau when it comes to new releases – there are no surprises – you get what you expect and no matter what the Murphys put out the new release will always be compared (unfairly) to their genre defining early releases.
Turn Up That Dial is The Dropkick Murphys 10th studio album, in AC/DC terms it should be their Blow Up Your Video. I’m glad to say Turn Up That Dial is a much better release then AC/DCs 10th effort (except for the classic Heatseeker). In fact, Turn Up That Dial is a really solid release, it’s classic DKM sing along, chant it out, Celtic-punk – no surprises as expected (or wanted). Turn Up That Dial is a stronger release then 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory and holds itself well up against releases by the various young pretenders to the Celtic-punk crown.
The pre-release single, Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding is a great fighting piece of Celtic street punk as is Smash Shit Up. Chosen Few, a call to unity, reminds me of a punkie version of Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. L-EE-B-O-Y is a lot of foot stomping piping fun (and a better song about a piper then “The Spicy McHaggis Jig)
What’s missing though is that one outstanding track, Shipping Up to Boston or Rose Tattoo or even a Heatseeker to make this a classic. Still a fine album.
The Rumjacks new release, Hestia, is easily the most anticipated Celtic-punk release of 2021. After the drama of original vocalist, Frankie McLaughlin, being booted in April, twelve months ago and his replacement by American, Mike Rivkees, of Mickey Rickshaw fame, the entire Celtic-punk world has been waiting to hear this album.
I’ve been listening to Hestia a lot since it dropped last month as I wanted to give it a fair and not rushed review. So, how does it sound? Like The Rumjacks of old – aggressive Celtic-punk, though maybe a slightly cleaner sound then before. The album burst out of the gate, with the speedy, Naysayer and continues in a fast paced, aggressive style (with more than the occasional Ska undertone) that we are accustomed to from The Rumjacks.
And how about Mike? He is stepping into big doc martens. Now, I’ve seen Mike live fronting Mickey Rickshaw and he’s a great front man. His vocals aren’t as distinctively hard lived as Frankie’s (which I really liked) but they fit right into the songs on Hestia. Mike is a fine replacement for Frankie and hopefully he can get them to the next level – whatever that means.
Palace Of The Fiend, the 2017 release by The Peelers was an absolute masterpiece, one of the best Celtic-punk albums ever made. Having played Palace Of The Fiend almost daily over the last three years it makes it difficult for me to objectively review Down and out in the City of Saints. So to be fair, I’m going to pretend I’ve never heard the Peelers before and review Down and out in the City of Saints like it’s a debut release.
Down and out in the City of Saints is an album full of big dirty-fuzzy guitars, thumping bass, growling vocals, fast and powerful street punk with great hooks and Celtic undertones. This is relentless, fighting music – both bare-knuckle and Queensbury rules. Lead single, Prizefight, grabs you hard and beats you around the head into submission. The bagpipe laden, Spirits Seldom Sober, is an ode to the hard-drinking life. Stick and Move (Spike O’Sullivan), packs a punch as hard as anything the Celtic Warrior, Spike O’Sullivan, can throw. The Last Glass, slows things down (just a little) before The Peelers are back to full force Celtic-punk with, Harder They Fall, and no matter how hard they fall The Peelers, pick themselves back up and keep swinging.
Down and out in the City of Saints is a really great piece of Celtic-punk rock. As good as Palace Of The Fiend? Maybe. I need to live with, Down and out in the City of Saints, for a while before I can really judge – I’ll let you know next year.