I know Finnegan’s Hell have just released a new album (it’s winding its way to me) but I wanted to give, Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class, a quick review first. Released at the tail end of 2020, Work……,, is Finnegan’s Hell third full-length album and while the previous two albums were solid Celtic-punk with a drinking problem, there was not much that made those releases stand out of the crowd. Well that has changed with, Work….., which after a few spins is a real standout album. The Finnegan’s Hell on, Work……,, is tight as hell, and the songs are first-class, no frills Celtic-punk with strong melodies and a drinking problem. Check out the title track below, there is a lot more of this quality through the album.
The Winter Codes are an Irish folk duo featuring David Walshe and Barney Murray…..yes that Barney Murray, the original legendary signer of Blood or Whiskey, here joined by David Walsh another ex-Blood or Whiskey man. It’s been 20 years since Barney’s last outing with Blood or Whiskey. Now there have been a few crumbs dropped over the years, an appearance on Shite’n’Onions volume 2 in 2003 and a digital EP a few years back. I’m happy to report Barney still has a voice that could strip paint at 50 feet though the music has moved away from Celtic-punk to a more traditional base – think Luke Kelly/The Dubliners or even Damien Dempsey with an attitude. Yeah, the Barney Murray attitude is still there.
“I’d rather die all alone in a bedsit off the North Circular Road than go back to you” North Circular Road
There are 14 tracks here of attitude-filled contemporary Irish folk with an edge. Highlights included the aforequoted, North Circular Road, an f-you break-up song. Troublesome Girl, was originally on Shite’n’Onions volume 2, it’s more polished here with folk singer Lisa Loughrey guesting on lead vocal. The Irish folk with horns, Friend in Tullamore, about coming back from rock bottom. The Fenian rebel song Erin’s Lovely Lee and Ovidstown about the men of 1798 keep the green flag flying high. In all, a very good album and it’s good to have both lads back.
I just got, Back to Zero, the second album by London based rockers, Brand New Zeros, in the mail a couple of days back and after multiple spins on the turntable I’m loving it.
Brand New Zeros features BibleCodeSundays vocalist and songwriter, Ronan MacManus, and guitarist, Luke James Dolan. Now, despite the Irish names and Ronan’s tenure with BCS there is nothing Celtic here, just really great Rock’n’Roll. MacManus is a fine signer with a rich, raw voice, sometimes reminiscent of another up and coming Londoner, Declan McManus. While Dolan bring with him a big dirty bluesy guitar sound that seamlessly moves from classic rock’ n’ Americana to new wave to grunge.
Like I said, Back to Zero, is really great rock’n’roll and an album I suspect I’ll be listening to for a long time into the future.
Jameson Street is a place you go to find warmth on a cold night or cool on a hot summer’s day. To see old friends and meet new ones, but most importantly, Jameson Street is somewhere you can go to while you leave your baggage and worries elsewhere.
Jameson Street, kicks off with the title track, a full force Céilí romp and possibly the most authentic trad sound I’ve ever heard coming out of any Celtic punk band. Once inside Jameson Street there is truly a meeting of old and new friends, all living Mahones past and present contribution to the album.
Rise Up (Be Strong), brings us back on a trip to the classic days of 1990s Mahones when the Mahones were the only game in town with their Pogues meets Waterboys meets The Replacements sound. Devil In Every Bottle, has you drinking arm in arm with your mates and you all in this together. Freeway Toll, also harkens back to the classic 90s days though this has just a touch of 90s alt-pop. While Watch Me Fall, has a raggle-taggle campfire feel. Lonesome Boatman, an instrumental, gives a loud nod to Celtic-rock granddaddies, Horslips, while winking at the Pogues at the same time. Holloway Jack, the first single off Jameson Street, started life on the Mahones debut, the cassette only, Clear the Way!! This is the definite version. While, Fiddle On Fire, is a manic Celtic jig – authentic as feck and if this doesn’t raise the dead and get them dancing I don’t know what would. She Comes For Love, is the second reworking of an older Mahones track (originally from Here Comes Lucky) this has a nice Replacements vibe.
The album closes appropriately with, Last Call At The Bar, which send us packing into the night as the barman yell’s “go home to fuck”.
Tacked on to the end of the album is a special bonus live cover of The Pogues, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, recorded when the Mahones toured Canada with Terry Woods and the late great Philip Chevron.
Jameson Street is in a toss up with, Angels and Devils, as the best Mahones album since the masterpiece, Here Comes Lucky.
Kings of Sweet Feck All, is the seventh album from Swedish/Irish Celtic-punkster, SIR REG. I’m happy to report that Sweet Feck All continues in the tradition of previous REG releases – energetic trad-punk in the vein of early Flogging Molly (for want of a comparison) – vocalist Brendan Sheehy has a singing style reminiscent of fell Dub, Dave King, while Brendan’s lyrics are pure Dublineese – something you can’t fake.
Kings of Sweet Feck All is a great album of straight ahead Celtic-punk – fast, high energy with strong melodies across all 11 songs. Highlights include, The Coming Regime – my favorite track. The Story’s Been Told, about Dublin in the dreary 1980s (something I can attest to) and the pure Celtic-punk (and anti-lockdown) of, Open The Pubs, and, Goodbye To Your Freedom. A very recommended release.
Punk frigging rock!
As much as I hate the term supergroup – it gives me visions of Led Zeppelin or 80’s metal bands made up of exes and put together by some A&R guy (Flogging Molly fans check out Katmandü for a giggle). UltraBomb is a supergroup – in a good way. The punk power trio is made up of Finny McConnell of The Mahones, stickman extraordinaire, Jamie Oliver of the UK Subs, and the legendary Mr. Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü – Hüsker Dü being of course the Saint Paul, Minnesota hardcore punk band that almost singlehandedly established and defined alternative rock in America during the 1980s.
So, give the three members, what does UltraBomb sound like? To my ears, its fast, powerful punk rock with great melodies, kind of like, well,…………Hüsker Dü, but with Finny’s distinctive vocals and Replacements-influenced guitar style – scratch any Mahones track and you’ll hear. Time To Burn, is really great stuff and despite various setbacks (canceled tours due to covid and Greg’s health), Time To Burn, is gonna EXPLODE!
Lift Your Head Up, is the latest full length CD release from Texas based, Scottish born and raised folkster, Hugh Morrison. Some of you will know Hugh’s work with long running Celtic-rock band, Murder the Stout as well as from being a touring member of the Street Dogs.
Lift Your Head Up, is contemporary folk, influenced by both the Celtic nations and Americana. The songs on Lift Your Head Up are pretty laid back and mellow with a strong sense of melody and touching lyrics.
Celtic Punk Superfan is to my knowledge the first* book written on the genre of Celtic-punk. Michael Corland is a New York based, long time fan of Celtic-punk and the previous author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk (Praeger, 2016). Superfan is a short collection (think Cliffs Notes size) of essays that Michael has written over the years. The essays are very well written and bring back fond memories to me of the early days (i.e., the 2000’s) of Celtic-punk. What is particularly insightful is that Michael is coming at this from a strong Jewish-American background and it goes to provide you don’t need a drop of Irish blood to be a Celtic punk Superfan (though a drop of Irish Whiskey always helps).
Superfan is available in paperback and for the Kindle via Amazon.
*I bought a book on amazon a number of years back about Celtic-Punk but it was essentially a collection of Wikipedia articles so it doesn’t count.
I love the idea behind split releases. They allow bands to share each other’s audience. Here we have two of the more established bands on the Celtic-punk scene splitting some vinyl. Australia’s The Rumjacks and Flatfoot 56 from the US. Since this EP is an Australian release I’m guessing this is more an introduction of Flatfoot to fans down under then The Rumjacks to the US.
Both bands contribute three tracks here with The Rumjacks kicking off on side 1 with the hooligan-ish Celtic punk of “Whitecaps”. The catchy “Fifth Ward Firestone” is more of the same. The side closes with a version of the old music hall standard “What Was Your Name in the States?” The flipside finds Chicago’s Flatfoot 56 initially with a little bit more of a laid-back groove on “Mud” before ramping up the energy. Tracks 2 and 3, “Sorry” & “Trouble”, are the bagpipes and punk rock growling vocals that Flatfoot 56 is best known for.
If I could get away with doing a one-word review for any release then this would be the one. The word? Beautiful!
But……even I’m not that lazy.
So expanding. Icons is a collaboration between Nick Burbridge (vocals, acoustic guitar, national treasure) who with McDermotts 2 Hours was one of the pioneers of folk-punk highly influencing both the Levellers and Ferocious Dog; and Dan Booth (fiddle) of the aforementioned Ferocious Dog and soon to be national treasures.
Icons is stripped down acoustic and fiddle versions of some of McDermotts best songs and new tracks co-written by Nick and Dan. And as mentioned before it’s beautiful – musically, lyrically, and sounding.