It’s not too often I’m ever at a loss of words, but every so often some random band comes along and commands my complete attention. Boys From The Hill are one of those bands. This Welsh trio have been playing various clubs, pubs, festivals, and whatnot for the past fifteen years and sure enough, I just now found out about them. Better late than never I suppose! Actually, they were recently recommended to me by Alistair Hulett, and in some circles, that carries some serious weight. Boys From The Hill play their own acoustic brand of Welsh urban folk that leans pretty heavy on the political, maritime, industrial, and historical issues that surround the culture of South Wales and beyond.
Just about every song on this album carries the raw energy of acoustic punk to that grand ole table of celtic folk we all love so much. The power of the 11 tracks on this album are undeniable. Pure, honest, and real. A must have album for any Shite’n’Onions reader/listener. Some of these songs are originals, and some are not, but then again, they are all songs worthy of a good listen. This self titled album is actually a few years old, but the years don’t really matter when the topics are as timeless as the ones mentioned here.
These are powerful songs that speak of everything from forced labor camps in depression era Britian, to immigrants in Western Australia that were forced to work in the death plauged asbestos mines due to two-year government bonds, to tales of exploitation in the valleys and towns of South Wales. Other songs reflect the strong maritime history of the area, including Track 5. “SS Agnes Jack” a mournful song telling us the tale of the steamship Agnes Jack which ran aground and all it’s passengers that drowned within sight of villagers who could only watch in horror as they tried to help. Other tracks include a latin flavored tune about the Sandinistas of Nicaragua on Track 6 cleverly titled “Guitarra Armada”. There’s a medley (Track 3) that contain a song written by Alistair Hulett, (Blue Murder) that turns into a foot stomping original, (Ffwrnanji) that eventually becomes a song not Welsh in origin, but in fact, Macedonian (Zletovsko).
Here is the tracklisting:
1. Brechfa Jail/The Ballad Of Ben Russ (Russ/Original)
2. Theme Park (Original)
3. Blue Murder/Ffwrnanji/Zletovsko (A. Hulett/Original/Traditional)
4. Bells Of Rhymney (Words:Idris Davies-music:Pete Seeger)
5. SS Agnes Jack (Tomi Jenkins)
6. Guittar Armada (Gary Phillips)
7. Lifeboat Mona (Peggy Seeger)
8. Waltzes For Nolwenn/Polka Dim Enw/South Glower Breakdown (Original)
9. Ffarwel Fo I Langyfelach Ion (Words:Siam Twrfyl)
10. Miner This, Miner That (Jock Purdon)
11. Dark Eyed Sailor (Traditional)
The band continue to write new material and develop their sound and they will be releasing an EP available for Download from their site (www.boysfromthehill.com ) around November, and their second album early in the New Year. Keep your eyes & ears open for these upcoming releases.
Review By: Barnacle Brian Gillespie