So it’s Friday night, let’s just say late October, and you decide to tell the lads you’re not going out on the town with ’em tonight. There won’t be any drunken group sing-a-longs of The Wild Rover, or Streams Of Whiskey with the boys just yet. It’s one of those nights you decide to hang out with a wee lass ya just met. Maybe it’s dinner, or maybe a movie, whatever, but there is one thing for certain, there will be drinking, oh yeah, lots of drinking. So let’s say you end up in some swanky jazz joint. Not excatly familair stompin’ grounds, but, whatever, you’re just trying to have a good time with your new freind. The drinks keep a comin’ and the night smoothly rolls right along. The table piles up with beer, cocktail and shot glasses.You get up and waltz with her a little. Eventually, it becomes late, real late, and both of ya repeatatly get cut off by the bar staff, so the two of you stumble back to the house. Laughing, stumbling, and slurring, the two of you use each other for leverage on the short tek back to the pad at 2 or 3 in the morning.
You unlock the front door, and both of you drunkenly fall right onto the floor, and you crawl across the rug. Finally, you’re safe on the couch and you turn on the CD player, it’s time to decide the rest of the mood for the evening/early morning. Loud punk guitars? naw. Screamin’ vocals? nope. It’s a perfect night for this band from Toronto, Kevin Quain & The Mad Bastards. It’s not really celtic, nor is it punk, sure it’s a wee bit folky, but more in a ballad sort of way. Actually, it sounds alot like a Tom Waits meets a Shane MacGowan/Nick Cave ballad in some downtown, smokey, late night, cocktail, salsa-lounge on Halloween. Almost a dark, drunken-romantic album if you will. Lots of great piano, smooth accordian, even some Spanish guitar. The best thing in my opinion are the poetic lyrics, (I like to think of the Oscar Wilde quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” as an example) Add on top of everything those rough smoke filled vocals that sound like somebody’s shoveling gravel. So, if you’re ever in Toronto, and it’s a late night, you can see what I’m talking about. The band plays over at The Cameron Public House every Sunday from 10pm-1am.
Simply put, if you’re a fan of Waits-MacGowan-Cave ballads like I am, then it’s an album to get for sure.
(Okay, back to your normally scheduled Celtic-folk-punk review.)
Review by Brian “Gutter” Gillespie