I didn’t put out a best of 2019 list on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 and the whole world went to shite. So, in my attempt to fix the strange vortex we have been in since, here with no further ado is the Shite’n’Onions best of 2020 (and 2019)
The Top 6:
#1 The Go Set: Of Bright Futures….and Broken Pasts
#2 Greenland Whalefishers: Based on a True Story
#3 The Walker Roaders: The Walker Roaders
#4 The Real McKenzies: Beer & Loathing
#5 The Tan & Sober Gentlemen: Veracity
#6 Bodh’aktan: Ride Out The Storm
Best 30 Year Retrospective:
The Mahones: This Is All We Got To Show For It (Best Of 1990 – 2020)
The Aussie version of Of Bright Futures…..and Broken Pasts, was released as two separate EPs. I was lucky enough to get my grubby paws on the German vinyl version where each EP becomes a side of the LP. The “Of Bright Futures”, side is The Go Set rocking out at their very best Weddings Parties Anything inspired blue-collar bagpipe infused punk’n’roll. The flip side “…and Broken Pasts”, is more introspective acoustic flavored folk punk. I’ve been a big fan of pretty much everything The Go Set has release over the last 15 year yet Of Bright Futures…and Broken Past might be to these ears the best thing these guys have ever done (at least since their mighty Sing A Song Of Revolution debut).
First up were Boston area based BarRoom Heros, a three piece power-punk trio consisting for the Rice brothers on guitar/bass and vocals and a wild, arms flailing, mass of dreadlocks on drums. Probably best known for opening for the Dropkick Murphys when they were something like 12 years old, I saw ‘em last year opening for Justin Keenan and it was great to see them again and without sounding like an old aunt they have really grown – musically and physically, in fact they could probably now get served in a bar if they had decent fake ids. Early Dropkick Murphys and Darkbuster are the obvious influences – Darkbusters Skinhead was covered and as was a great punked up version of The Dubliners Seven Drunk Nights.
Aussie band Ramshackle Army were up next. They are one of those bands that people speak highly about but I haven’t to date invested a lot of time in listening too ’em. Well I will after tonight, these guys and gal were a high intensity sweat drenched riot – fiddle, banjo, punk rock and the rock star that is Gaz in full flight with shapes thrown and face contortions
Between each of the sets there was an acoustic set from Live Nude Girls (actually two girls and a guy who all kept their clothes on) – fiddle, double bass and girl on guitar with a big voice. A nice touch that kept the momentum going as the bands changed over.
Its been about five years since I’ve seen Boston party punks the Beantown Boozehounds, good to say they are still slamming shots, guzzling PBR and playing hard. Lot’s of ragging on the touring “Austrians”. I do remember last time I saw ’em a lot more beer was spat in the air – maturity possibly? Nah, never.
Finally up were The Go Set who have been one of my favorite bands from when I heard them first over ten years ago. I got the taste of them live last year when I saw Justin Keenan on his solo tour so my expectations for the full band were high. The set started with bagpipes from the back of the venue and as the band were lead to stage the pipes turned into full force punk and pipes and occasional punk and double pipes with the addition of second piper Sean from Alternative Ulster. Expectations were met – the Go Set were as good live as so disk – great songs, tight and they had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. I’m not sure how may fans The Go Set had in the venue at the beginning of the set but by the end of the set I knew – everyone including the bartender. All the classics were done – 1788, Davey, Old Dark Brown, Sing Me a Song and a very special off the stage, in the middle of the floor, totally acoustic version of 5AM .I have to give a shout out to The Go Set drummer, Agostino Soldati – John Bonham raised from the dead with veins pumped full of redbull – I’ve never seen or heard drums hit so hard and so fast. The set ended with a cover of AC/DCs Long Way to the Top with help form Gaz and the Boozehounds. The Go Set promise to be back next year for another tour of the US and they are not to be missed.
The Go Set, BeanTown Boozehounds, The Pint Killers, The Disquiets
Road Tripping. I was to Boston for this insane line-up. I roped in a mate and we shipped up to Boston from Kingston, NY, a 4 hour drive. We headed out at 1pm to arrive at 5 to check into our flophouse, The Farrington Inn. It smelled like a morgue to me, I could smell dead bodies, musk or wet dog anyway. Highly recommended. Affordable- if you know what I mean.
We had just enough time to grab a bite with my life-long friend Dave Tree of Boston’s TREE and SEE THIS WORLD and John Murphy who was guest listed for the show but had already bought two tickets that he was going to simply GIVE us. What could be better than to meet at old school Italian Greg’s Restaurant in Watertown? The waitresses only yelled at us a little- “Sit in the lounge! Sit in the Lounge!”
We got to O’Brien’s a bit after eight and met Lachlan McSwain (pipes, whistle) and Chad Blaster (drums/ Ramshackle Army) of The Go Set who were already there. Had a lot of fun downing some pints and catching up. I had played in NYC with The Go Set last year with Alternative Ulster before that band broke apart. We learned Justin Keenan lead singer of the Go Set’s plane wasn’t going to land until 10PM. The bass player shortly before that was landing from Toronto. All I could get was that his name was Shorty. Those two were simply going to have to run in the door, set up and play. F*k-tons of fun! (That’s for you Chad). Did you know that in Australia there are kangaroo warnings when a troop jumps along main street and schools go into lockdown? Chad laughingly informed us cuz he also teaches at a drum school. None of them called us a cnt , a word that in Australia is used more than “the,” but we were taught how to slide it into a conversation for maximum effect.
Talking to a lad at the bar in a Black Irish Texas shirt- said he was bass in The Gobshites- Tom Hughes. Both soon realized we had met, we played an awesome event Phil Duckworth put together last year in Danbury CT, when I was with Alternative Ulster. The Mighty Ploughboys had hosted and headlined on their AOH home turf.
To be honest we missed the first band, The Disquiets, looking for a cocktail- some bourbon- and to walk off Gregg’s food. When we got back The Pint Killers were just getting ready to go. It was an insane set of all originals except for the closer, Skinhead by Darkbuster. Raise a Glass, Around the Hood, Friend, Devil & Me, Walk away, Who, Just a Man , Lights Out, and Skinhead. Mark Doherty, the lead singer of The Pint Killers is a complete human bull-dawg of solid muscle who leaps completely into the air over and over during songs. It’s awesome to watch. A puppet-man on an invisible string. During a spoken word intro to Walk Away, a song he wrote for a girl he was breaking up with at the time but is now reunited with, he said ‘it may get him solo again for singing it,’ – a funny moment. Sober for two years, that’s freaking fantastic! The rest of The Pint Killers are Bill Jolliemore (guitar), Dean Calamari (bass) and Johnny Fencer (drums). All sing backing vocals and Jolliemore is a monster on guitar. Enjoyed watching him play. My friend from home liked this band a lot, too.
Next came the Beantown Boozehounds, Chad (guitar /mandolin), Gallows (guitar, vocals), Rob B. Ridiculous (bass, vocals), and Rocky Magic (drums).
This set was an insane alcohol-fueled car-crash of mayhem and beer fountains spraying on fans and band alike. Chad was soaked to the bone. Dozens of double shots of some brown booze were brought to the stage and hastily thrown down by all like thirsty pirates. I’d guess it was Jaeger, but what the hell, rum and black currant? Darker than whiskey seemed to be to me. Haha. Rob B., the bass player, had some ridiculous band shirt with the Hamburgler on it called Mac Sabbath– a Ronald McDonald themed Black Sabbath tribute band he explained to me later. Ok things were getting weird. Their cover of the Ramones’ Bonzo Goes to Bitburg was simply brilliant and has been playing in my head for four days now. Great beer laden Boston set- a classic. How does Chad Beantown imitate a beer-spewing fire hydrant so well? Years of practice. Seems like it’s a Boston tradition to wear a baseball cap while you play. Now I know it’s to keep the beer spray out of your eyes.
Near midnight and Justin Keenan from The Go Set had arrived by some miracle and Shorty was tuning up his bass. A “calling-on song” ? The band was busy getting beers so Justin jumped up and started sing his Aussie stones off to a Robert Burns’ poem MacPherspon’s Rant. The rest of the band started to hurry their arses to get on stage and go. It was just stunning. His crazy 30- hour on a plane voice and manic- OJ Simpson- running-over-the –turnstiles– look had the crowd spellbound. Then they came in together with Drums of Chelsea and O’Briens went mad. Raise a Glass was next and the shots of brown Jaeger kept coming. Four songs mixed into the set from their first 2004 album was a killer treat- MacPherson’s, Old Dark Brown, 1788, and 5 AM. The rest of the sixteen song set were spread out from brand new to mid, about two songs from each record. The girls love it when the Go Set gets intimate and Justin and the drummer go acoustic and step into the crowd and do an acoustic number, 5 AM. Except there were no girls there, not one that I remember- a f*ck-ton of fun. Haha. Brought it right back up with four more Aussie pub-rockers capped off by Davey closing the show- you thought. Everyone was on stage for the encore closer- AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to the Top, that had the Beantown Boozehounds and The Pint Killers all up there singing, drinking shots, and beer-spraying along. If there is an Irish Punk Valhalla, it looks like this.
Oh, and hat’s off to the doorman who had gauges as big as a 40 oz. He said it took him 12 years to stretch it out. Dedication.
Tracks on compilation albums are like friends. You can find good friends like Sir Reg, Greenland Whalefishers and The Go Set. There are friends you have lost touch with and need to reconnect with – The Porters, The Killigans and Kilkenny Knights. Friends that you need to get to know better – Mickey Rickshaw and Hoist the Colors and of course friends that you haven’t met until now. Raise Your Pints – Vol.2 is a very good compilation and if you want to know what is going on in the European scene the MacSlon is the man.
1 The Rogues from County Hell – MacSlon’s 2 The Cloves and the Tobacco – Too Much Trouble 3 Kilkenny Knights – Mick Watson 4 Irish Stew Of Sindidun – One Way Ticket 5 The Killigans – From The Underground 6 The Mullins – 9 To 5 7 The Go Set – Holdfast 8 The O’Reillys & The Paddyhats – Sign Of The Fighter 9 Billy Treacy – Temple Bar 10 Sir Reg – All Saints’ Day 11 Hoist The Colours – Mourners 12 Mickey Rickshaw – Nonprofit Warfare 13 Uncle Bard & The Dirty Bastards – I Only Got One Pint 14 Paddy and the Rats – Lonely Hearts’ Boulevard 15 BalticSeaChild – Fool In The Rain 16 Drink Hunters – Celtic Punks 17 Airs & Graces – 4 Corners 18 The Moorings – Drink Up Fast 19 The Porters – Son Of This Town 20 The Clan – Horns Up And Fight 21 Greenland Whalefishers – The Letter
Rolling Sound the latest release by Aussie band The Go Set is an album you need to buy twice, not just because its another slab of fineness from one of the most consistently great bands on the whole Celtic-punk scene. In fact, I would say it’s my favorite Go Set collection with the exception of the Sing a Song of Revolution (and if they pulled Back in Black 2 outta their collective arses Sing a Song of Revolution would still top it for me). So why buy it twice? Well once so you can get it on glorious splatter green vinyl and twice cos the CD version comes with a DVD of These Are The Days a full length highly professional documentary on the band and realities of a DIY band touring the world and making music on their terms.
For wee awhile The Go Set were a band that would annually put out a full length studio album and invariably that years release would land within the top 3 of Shite’n’Onions best of year list. The Rising making the cherished #1 spot in 2008. Then things went quite, very quite. So quite that I thought that the band may have departed this mortal world – it didn’t help that the web site was hijacked by a brand of designer jeans (weird eh?). Well, 2011 sees the band back and doing what they do best – playing really frigging raw and loud. Another Round In Melbourne Town is a 19 track, no frills, live album of punk-rock-n-bagpipes, distinctly Australian – old AC/DC, Weddings, Presents, Anything – that will smack you hard about the head and then stomp on your fingers when you try and pick up your teeth from the ground. The best way to hear the Go Set is LOUD and LIVE and since most of us are not in Ozz, this is the next best thing to experiencing ’em in the flesh. Mores the pity.
1. Intro2. MacPherson’s Rant (from Sing a Song of Revolution)
3. North of the 23 (from Rising)
4. Fortune and Gold (from A Journey for a Nation)
5. Bordeaux (from The Hungry Mile)
6. The Miner’s Son (from Rising)
7. The Rising Tide (from A Journey for a Nation)
8. Portland 3:15 (from Rising)
9. 1788 (from Sing a Song of Revolution)
10. The Old Dark Brown (from Sing a Song of Revolution)
11. 5am (from Sing a Song of Revolution)
12. Mainland (The Real McKenzies cover)
13. Fifty Four (from Rising)
14. Away Away (Weddings Parties Anything cover from Sing a Song of Revolution)
Well its been barely a year since the last album from Melbourne’s hard-working paddy punk-outfit The Go Set, and it was with some excitement indeed that I received “A Journey for a Nation” in the mail. And right from the outset, I was not disappointed – a great cover depicting scenes from a working-class, industrial looking city backdrop with newspaper clippings of strikes and union action – a most appropriate image for a band whose lyrics are always representative of the common man – both today and in the past.
Now where to start…first perhaps a brief note for those unfamiliar with this band. The Go Set are an indie band mixing up the punk genre with a mix of celtic instrumentation (bag pipes, mandolin piano accordion etc.) combined with a political outspoken-ness to match legendary Australian band Midnight Oil.
Singer/songwriter Justin Keenan has delivered in this album another set of clever songs expressing his brilliance as a story-teller commanding vivid imagery and a sense of injustice in the pit of your stomach.
The album is definitely a progression for the band. Lyrically it is probably the strongest and their experimentation on the instrumentation and melody front has increased with every album. Some of the songs on this album could almost be classed as trad-rock rather than trad-punk, but they pull it off with the same sense of urgency and it is a treat for the ears start to finish. The sleeve notes mention that this album was arranged in the studio as part of the recording process, rather than taking life on the stage first and I think you can tell this from the increased complexity of some of the arrangements over perhaps some of the raw energy from the earlier releases – not that there’s any energy lacking in some of these tracks!
The album kicks off with “Fortune and Gold”, a tale of mutiny and murder with pipes and a clever little mandolin counter-melody. This is followed up with the happy-feeling “The Rising Tide” with very catchy use of piano accordion & violin. “The New Minority” has great imagery combined with a serious social commentary – a sweet melody with some female vocals that took a bit of getting used to for me – my first introduction to the sounds of the fairer sex on a Go Set album!!! Next comes “Swings and Roundabouts” – a good ol’ rocking tune – traditional Go Set – can’t go wrong! And followed up by “Bakery Hill”, possibly my favourite tune off the album after only a few listens – this is truly The Go Set at their best, a bagpipe-driven anthem with some great guitar riffs too. “Sheppards Town” comes in next, The Go Set really do bring small-town working-class living to life in their songs. This is a great mix of the The Go Set’s traditional sound with some new instrumentation. “Catching the Sun” follows – a mid-tempo, pretty song – poignant lyrics about life in the slow lane. “Oceans of Blue” comes in next which is another possible favourite – great imagery, a very clever little guitar riff and overall, just brilliant arrangement. “A Story to Tell” is a ballad, again conjuring up great imagery mixing up family life with the impossible rock n roll dream of an indie band … “Welcome to the World” launches us straight back into full on Go Set again- excellent stuff, another political anti-war/environmentalist gem. Next The Go Set lads perform a cover of Billy Bragg’s “Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards” – a very appropriate song for this band, recognising Bragg’s influence over their style: Mixing pop and politics…and it works well with McHaggis’ pipes and the overall rocking feel. The album closes out with “Journey of a Thousand Miles” – an epic track at 7 minutes long. First thing that struck me with it was the enlightened rhythm section – just spot on. A very beautiful accordion melody, a few more female vocals and another legendary set of story-telling lyrics from Keenan.
The Go Set have delivered another quality album and yet it isn’t more of the same either…something for new and old fans alike. I can’t wait to see how this all pans out in a live show as they take this album on the road with all the enthusiasm only The Go Set can muster…great work lads!!! I strongly recommend this album, and if you ever get the chance, make sure you get to a live show!