Tag Archives: The Killigans

Various ‎– Raise Your Pints Vol.2 (MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio)

September 17, 2017

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.

Tracks list:

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


The Killigans: One Step Ahead of Hell

Talk about yer tough jobs, ‘One Step Ahead Of Hell’ has the challenge of following The Killigans’ brilliant debut, ‘Brown Bottle Hymnal’. While ‘Brown Bottle Hymnal’ hit the scene like a bucket of ice water in the morning, ‘One Step Ahead of Hell’ takes that wake-up call and expands upon it. In my opinion, the biggest difference between this release and the awesome ‘Brown Bottle Hymnal’ is variety. Where the band’s debut CD immediately showed a common thread that permeated its sound, ‘One Step…’ shows a real spreading of the band’s wings, which seems less concerned with maintaining a particular sound and, in doing so, shows a cohesiveness and signature with such a naturally occurring ease that I think this band could be recognized doing any song they chose. This signature sound is due largely to Brad Hoffman’s vocals. Sounding almost as if it underwent the same distortion as Chris Nebesniak’s guitar, together they create a sound as distinctive as anything else in this genre. The two compliment each other perfectly and work well with the driving urgency brought forth by the band’s hyperactive rhythm section, (how many arms does this drummer have, anyways?). Also worthy of mention is Pat Nebesniak, as one of the few accordion players aware of the power of subtlety, and Zach Stroup’s mandolin can sit in the front of the mix being delicate enough not to overshadow the other instruments but focused enough to carve out its own identity. The addition of piper Edwin Makusha smoothes out the transition, adding a fuller, more mature sound.

In the end it’s the songs that win the day, and ‘One Step Ahead of Hell’ delivers. The entire CD is stacked with high-energy one-two punchers that hit like a sock full of tacks. My favorites: disc opener, Shame and Sorrow, the barn-burning Through The Flames, tear-jerker, The Letter, and disc closer, Kids on the Street.

For fans of the ‘Brown Bottle Hymnal’, I highly recommend ‘One Step Ahead of Hell’, you won’t be disappointed. For those unaware of the Killigans, check out this CD and you will probably soon own ‘Brown Bottle Hymnal’ as well.


Review – Christopher Toler, THE Blathering Gommel

The Killigans: Brown Bottle Hymnal

Trad-punk six piece The Killigans hail from Nebraska, the American central Great Plains State framed by Bruce Springsteen in his 1982 release of the same name. Perhaps, for many outsiders, Springsteen conclusively established the imagery of the place through his bare lyrics and bleakly romantic cover art, his own vision of a vast and lonely rural America echoed in Tom Waits songs such as ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ and ‘Train Song’. Whatever the case, The Killigans’ debut album Brown Bottle Hymnal shows them steeped in a raw fresh aura of hinterland. They are, perhaps, the only recorded example of an elusive species; the spiritually rural punk band.

And punk they are. Although their lyrics would no doubt earn a nod from Steve Earle and Jeff Tweedy, this is not ‘country’ – whatever that is – nor is it the critically-cherished style known as ‘Americana’. The Killigans owe something to Flogging Molly’s electric folk crunch and love of full-throated delivery but the accent is their own. Opening with the jaunty dockyard accordion of ‘Lullaby For The Working Man’, dual vocalists Brad Hoffman and Chris Nebesniak launch into a raucous lament for shafted underdogs that sounds like it could have surfaced in one of Woody Guthrie’s long-lost songbooks. The pace is maintained with The Dubliners’ trad favourite ‘The Holy Ground’, a prayer sung by sailors amongst themselves so that they may return again to the women and taverns that complement their other real addiction; the sea itself. People will still be singing this song in a hundred years and The Killigans understand this quality and do it justice.

‘Ballad For The Working Man’ is another vignette of proletariat frustration and restriction – “ The factory life is all I have, an all inclusive club … I know that I’m just an ordinary man, I’m none too smart” – but still holds onto the hope of defiance, spat out alongside the resentment: “We will rise up, stand up and fight”. The mix has electric and tautly strummed acoustic guitar complementing each other neatly and brings to mind the better Flogging Molly stuff.

There’s a hearty toast to The Dropkick Murphys on ‘Story Of Tom Mathine’ with it’s bar room call-and-answer verses and swaying singalong chorus, snare roll-driven pace and bawdy storyline in which the title character – “ a bully and a prick through and through “ – gets his just desserts at the hands of a no-nonsense, hard-drinking preacher.

The band takes a detour with the introspective ‘Season Of My Weakness’, a catchy mid-tempo folk rock number. Then it’s sleeves rolled up and straight back into the lowly bars with ‘Radney’s Ghost’, a theatrical pirate yarn of treachery and the cat, inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick: “ Being flogged on the deck was more than he could bear … Rad was dropped with a punch, spouted blood just like a whale “. All signs point to this one being a jawbreaker when played live.

The faded but beloved Dubliners and Clancy Brothers records come out again with ‘The Old Orange Flute’, the surreal tale of the fickle Orangeman Bob Williamson who runs off with a Catholic girl, taking his prized – but seemingly possessed – flute with him; try as he might, he can’t get the instrument to play anything but ‘The Protestant Boys’ and so a council of priests burn it at the stake. However, the flute has the last say: “ As the flames soared around, sure it made a quare noise, ‘twas the old flute still playing ‘The Protestant Boys!’ ”.

‘Lessons From The Empty Glass’ is a banjo-led instrumental that sounds like the soundtrack to the most gloriously fun and violent western TV series never made. Then the band really hit the highway with ‘The Old Road Down’, a big, brooding mid-American number that calls to mind Copperhead Road-era Steve Earle; “ Got everything I own inside this Chevrolet, going nowhere and that needle’s dropping fast, that woman broke my heart in St. Louis, shot ‘em both and drove into the west “.

The guitars stay cranked for ‘Apathetic Notions’, a curse against the exploitative status quo and the system that leads to “most of us exploited by the rich” not knowing “we’ve put the yoke on our own necks”. But as with their other political songs, there is a flame of hope through making such acknowledgments.

The album ends with the desolate and moving ‘ Desperate Cry ‘. This is the sort of song that John Mellencamp may have written if he had joined a punk band – “ Famer stands watching as his crops wilt away … cry out to the Lord God, ‘Help me Jesus I pray! “ – it immediately calls to mind the classic Rain On The Scarecrow. The spare arrangement, using only trumpet and acoustic guitar to accompany Hoffman’s bereft voice, flips the whole album upside down on its head.

Brown Bottle Hymnal is a significantly original punk rock release. Hoffman’s capacity to lead and hold a tune rivals the best of them and the lyrics are varied and engaging. It smells as fresh as approaching rain and a cracked can of cold beer. The Killigans have drawn water from the well and are irrigating their own fields.


Will Swan
Melbourne, Australia


V/A: Paddy Rock Radio Vol.2

Hats off again to John Bowles of Paddy Rock Radio for pulling together another fine comp. I’m always amazed how John will always manage to find 2 or 3 really great bands that I’ve never heard – Meisce, The Sandcarvers and The Vandon Arms being the new standouts to me. Of course there are also lots of bands that are old friends of Shite’n’Onions here – Blaggards. Sharky Doyles, The Killigans and many more. 15 great tacks in all. Check it out, I think you’ll be finding new friends as well and getting reacquainted with some old ones.



Various Artists: Paddy Rock Radio Volume 1

First of all hats off to Paddy Rock Radio’s John Bowels for putting this comp together. As someone who has put together a similar project I know what’s involved in pulling everything together and believe me it can be a major pain in the ass. Chicago based Paddy Rock Radio is a peer Shite’n’Onions and a long time supporter of the Celtic/Punk scene. Paddy Rock Volume 1 is a celebration of the shows 5th anniversary  and is a collection of both classic and new Paddy Rock. Some of the the music on offer here will be very familiar (The Peelers, The Prodigals, Greenland Whalefishers and The Mahones) and some stuff is new even to me. The new bands to me that I loved and now want to check out further are Flatfoot 56 (bagpipes and hardcore), The Killigans (Flogging Molly like with feeling and great vocals), Switchback (Reggae’n’Irish).

Full band list: Flatfoot 56, The Peelers, The Bloody Irish Boys, The Killigans, Jackdaw, The Go Set, The Mahones, Switchback, The Prodigals, Greenland Whalefishers, IceWagon Flu, The Scuttlers, The Broken Shillelaghs

August 2005