The Tossers – Emerald City Review

The Tossers new album, Emerald City has just come out this month. This long running band from Chicago has produced a thoughtful piece, that gives tribute to their hometown. I was excited when I picked up my copy, hoping to be blown away by these great Celtic Punk veterans. Instead, this release is like the girl next door. She is cute, maybe even a bit homely, but underneath the exterior lies something very deep and mature. The songs for me blended into each other but all were solid musically. However, in reading the lyrics from the songs contain deep substance and are quite poetic.

The songs I enjoyed the most were “Emerald City” that has a lovely story of Irish immigrants and falling in love, not just of a woman but of the city and “USA” about the community of south side Chicago.

Going back to my metaphor of the girl next door, this album did not set my heart racing or fueling my muse like the wild girl in town. On the surface it ok, but when you dig deeper, get into the lyrics, it is very solid piece of work. And like the girl next door, maybe as time develops, and love affair can develop. We will see what familiarity will spawn as it goes into my daily playlist of Celtic Rock and Punk songs and mingles with other songs. Perhaps breaking the songs away from the others can help me see the trees through the forest.

Track listing:

  1. The Rover
  2. Here’s to a Drink With You
  3. Emerald City
  4. Wherever You Go
  5. USA
  6. St. Patrick’s Day
  7. Bombo Lane
  8. The Break of Dawn
  9. The South Side of Town
  10. Where the Beer and Whiskey Flow
  11. God Bless You
  12. Johnny McGuire’s Wake
  13. The Fermoy Lasses and Sporting Paddy
  14. Slainte

Slainte!

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St Louis Celtic Rock for St Paddy’s Weekend

While I could update my Upcoming Shows page, I wanted to bring more attention to the events happening this weekend for Celtic Rock in St Louis. Without further ado, here we go:

 

Rusty Nail:

  • 3-13 Stag Night Solute to the Irish at the Blank Space wtih the Red Headed Strangers
  • 3-16 Tigin from 3pm to 6pm
  • 3-16 Urban Chestnut Brewing Company 8pm-11pm
  • 03-17 Llewelyns in St Charles 4pm-8pm

Plaid To The Bone:

  • 3-15 Old Rock House 7pm
  • 3-16 Sky Music Lounge 6pm (I plan on catching these guys for the time here!)
  • 3-17 Llewelyns in Soulard 6pm
  • show has been cancelled

Irish Xiles:

  • 3-16 O’Malleys 2pm-5pm
  • 3-17 RT Weilers 1pm-4pm
  • 3-17 O’Malleys 5pm-8pm

The Narrowbacks – Fire It Up Review

thenarrowbacksOk my friends, get ready for an onslaught of reviews over the next couple of weeks – there have been a lot of fun releases (thankfully on Xbox Music for my poor, broke ass) and to start the month of St Padraig, I am kicking it off with the debut album of The Narrowbacks. The Narrowbacks are a five piece band from New York. Fire It Up is fun rollicking piece of work and a majority of the songs are original songs which I love to see.

The album starts with “The Leaving of Liverpool” and they do a very competent job with it. “The Temperance” is one of their original tracks and it really shines. The music is fun, infectious and the lyrics are fun. “Sean South/Britches Full of Stitches/ Tell Me Ma Medley” is a great foot stomper leading you into “Tell Me Ma”, which is well done. “The Confessional” is another sparkling gem that when you give a good listen to the lyrics will put a smile on your face of poor Seamus’s decisions with the booze and women and the poor priests who has to hear the confession, this song is worth some repeated plays to truly get the flavor of it. “Muirsheen Durkin” is a nicely done song for the pub crowds. “Stay in Tonight” has a good swinging beat to it that hides a bit of relationship discord. “Lost Generation” can fall under the heading of a political song about being told to go to college, get a degree and you will have a job, but given the economy, the jobs aren’t there. The song has a great Irish feel to it with an addictive chorus. “Whiskey in the Jar”, another pub standard, is done well, more on the trad side than rock. “Murtys Publick House 4:45am” is a swaying instrumental tune. “Paddy’s Field” is a fun tune that will get your feet stomping and singing the chorus. The last song on the album is my favorite, “Doubt It”. From the acoustical start it quickly ramps up into a love song that is funny and sweet.

If you are needing an album that will put a grin on your face, this is a great one to pick up and listen to. I really enjoyed all of their original songs, they had great energy and the vocals of gruff yet melodic. The standards on the album are fair, I would not say anything exceptional, but they were very well done. For a debut album, I wait anxiously to see how The Narrowbacks grow and mature and create more original songs. You can get their album on CDbaby,

Track listing:

  1. The Leaving of Liverpool
  2. The Temperance
  3. Sean South/Britches Full of Stitches/Tell Me Ma Medley
  4. Tell Me Ma
  5. The Confessional
  6. Muirsheen Durkin
  7. Stay in Tonight
  8. Lost Generation
  9. Whiskey in the Jar
  10. Murtys Publick House 4:45am
  11. Paddy’s Field
  12. Doubt It

Slainte!

Between The Wars – Won’t Go Quietly Review

BTW won't go quietlyBack in January, I had the privilege to ask Jay from Between The Wars some questions of their upcoming release Won’t Go Quietly. If you have not read it (or want a refresher) you can find my post here. Last week, Between The Wars posted the full album on SoundCloud to give their fans a taste and encourage them to pre-order. I will tell you know, go pre-order it, you won’t be disappointed! BTW continues with their great story telling in melody, their sound is more edgy, but the feel is definitely still BTW – old fans won’t begrudge the sound change and new fans can go back to their older stuff and appreciate it. One of my favorite facets with these guys, and has been from the beginning is how the tempo and feel of the music does not always match the lyrics so if you are listening to the music in the background, just enjoying the feel and having fun, when do you pay attention to the lyrics you are blown away by the depth and feeling.

To start the album out is “Worst Enemy”, it is easily identifiable as a BTW song, though the vocals are more gravely, the music is harder and gives you a great promise of what is to come and was quickly one of my top picks on the album. “My Seafaring Home” follows up with a song with quick lyrics  and music that had me taping on my desk all week. “Goodnight Sweetheart” is the story of war-torn England and the blackouts. The fiddle work is exquisite and the pacing of the song fun though the subject matter is not fun. This song has really been growing on me with its depth. Speaking of depth, “First Train Out” is one of those songs that I referred to earlier, that it is on the surface an enjoyable song, then you get beyond its surface and the story of the song is incredible and melancholy. Appropriately, the next song up is “Afraid of Death” which was an early top song for me. The spirit of the song driven by the vocals and music, and again the great fiddle work make for a great tune. “Oh Penny!” is the lightest song on the album and the song is about past love moved on. The song is fast, you want to clap along with and sing out “Oh Penny!” Again this song tells a story, from the early stages of infatuation through the loss his love to someone else. “I’ll Dance On Your Grave, Mrs. Thatcher” is a political song by John McCullagh and features him on the song. I can see why BTW would want to include this song – it follows along with their MO of great storytelling put to music regarding striking miners. This is the hardest rocking songs on the album and their conveyance of the anger is fantastic. “I Won’t Ever Get Between My Woman and Her Whiskey Anymore” is more country feeling, and perhaps the greatest departure from previous BTW songs. It features some great tempo changes and once again, their new fiddle player steals the show of the song. “Rural Juror” brings the pace down to a song that has the music to match the lyrics, making it more poignant and thoughtful. “Ever Present Storm” brings the pace back up with a haunting tune of revenge with some brief guitar work reminiscent of spaghetti westerns. “A Sailor’s Lament” is a song that starts out slowly, with vocals and the sounds of water in the background before ramping up a bit, then at the 3 minute mark it ramps up again. Finishing out the album is “Frustrated From Berwick”, a song for those who chose for whatever reason of doing nothing instead of standing up for what they believe in. The song is catching not really in a fast way but through the repetition to drive home the point.

For new and old Between The Wars fans, this is one for your collections. In their interview they talked about how they enjoy telling stories with their songs and this album clearly shows that (along with their past works) and the skill they are able to craft music that belies the words of the song, so you actually have to listen, is what, to me anyway, really enjoyable about BTW. You have to think to actually get some of their songs and this world needs more people to think and not be sheep. To me that is the great thing about punk – don’t be a sheep, be who you are regardless of who the sheep want you be. So I’ve got my pre-order in, do you?

Track listing:

  1. Worst Enemy
  2. My Seafaring Home
  3. Goodnight Sweetheart
  4. First Train Out
  5. Afraid of Death
  6. Oh Penny!
  7. I’ll Dance On Your Grave, Mrs. Thatcher
  8. I Won’t Ever Get Between My Woman and Her Whiskey Anymore
  9. Rural Juror
  10. Ever Present Storm
  11. A Sailor’s Lament
  12. Frustrated From Berwick

Slainte!

The Lagan – Where’s Your Messiah Now?

The Lagan coverThe Lagan, a hard rocking six piece Celtic Punk band from London are releasing their debut album Where’s Your Messiah Now on St Patty’s day and I was lucky to get a preview release. I have to say that in listening to it, I had to keep checking that this was their freshman release. The album showcases their craft of music and vocals plus the amount of original songs has made for brilliant album that is fun to listen and get lift your musical spirit. The album contains 10 tracks, six of which are original, three standards and one hybrid.

“Staring The Devil In The Eye” starts out the album with grand fanfare with the drums leading it in followed by tin whistles before ramping up and really rocking. The song is one of several nautical in nature that speaks to the old wind sailor in me. Catchy lyrics and taking the themes from traditions and creating a new story paired with the rocking music make for a fun song. “Sailin’ East” is another nautical themed (yeah I know smart asses, the title makes that clear) that segues nicely yet remains it own song and not as a copy of “Staring The Devil In The Eye”. The third track, “Work Away” is my favorite track on the album. The melody and chorus are heartbreaking yet uplifting – a song for the fighter in all of us. Even pounding away, there is always the hope for relief without giving up. “Star of The County Down” is well done, the intro being my favorite part. “Guinness ‘n’ Chips” is my second favorite track, the mix of whistle and fiddle and pace for a fun song, that oddly in all my listening to, I did not hear any reference to Guinness. Every time this song has come in, I would stop doing whatever it was doing and start to get into the song – don’t plan on getting any work done during this song! “Sunny Day In Southie” is a fun song, though given my lifestyle choice of sobriety, does not speak to me as it would have previously, but I’m sure a lot of people will take this up for their drinking anthem. “I’ll Tell Me Ma” is a nice rendition of a classic tune that has been gruffed up in parts for them to the song their own. “The Good Ship Lagan” is the hybrid, it has the music from “Drunken Sailor” to original lyrics. A fun song and one that was enjoyable listening to their tailoring of the song. “Same Shite Different Day” rounds out my top three songs. Gruff vocals, hard lyrics that has the nautical tone of their other songs. Finishing up the album is “The Fields of Anthenry”, the song that it seems every Celtic band has to have in their playlist for someone in the audience. The song is well crafted, capturing the sorrow of the song very well.

The Lagan enter what will be a crowded field of top albums for the year and will easily be a contender for top slots come December and January. Their original songs are fun and well crafted and given this is their debut album, the overall quality is outstanding. Keep it up boys and don’t keep us waiting for your follow-up!

Track listing:

  1. Staring The Devil In The Eye
  2. Sailin’ East
  3. Work Away
  4. Star Of The County Down
  5. Guinness ‘n’ Chips
  6. Sunny Day In Southie
  7. I’ll Tell Me Ma
  8. The Good Ship Lagan
  9. Same Shite Different Night
  10. The Fields of Athenry

Slainte!

Valentino Is Dead – Misadventures In Punk Rock Review

Valentino is DeadValentino Is Dead is an Irish Punk/Alternative band, and to clarify, they are from Ireland and a punk band – not an Irish Folk Punk band – so this review is a wee bit of a departure from my normal fare that I write about. Regardless, this band is hard rocking, their tunes are catchy and just downright fun to listen to. I discovered them thanks to a follow suggestion from Twitter and some free songs. Yeah, they are following the drug dealers method of business, give the taste away for free and get you hooked!

Hailing from the east coast of Ireland, this band clearly has a lot of diverse influences that makes for fun listening. Misadventures In Punk Rock is their debut album and listening to it, I was completely taken by surprise. The sound is polished and big. Each song stands on its own and has a different feel from the others on the album.  Right from the start, “Up Your Anti”, a song that is “really hard-hitting rocking song about the uprisings, fights for democracy and all that stuff in Egypt and all across North Africa”, sets the fast tone for what is come for 10 tracks on the album. The chorus is catchy and the music is fast and hard. “Forlorn” is perhaps my least favorite track on the album, musically it is great, but the electronic voice synthesizer to me takes away from the song, being a distraction from instruments. “A Galway Tale” is in my top 3 tracks of the album, starting a bit folky, it quickly moves into a catchy, nostalgic tune about fishing boats known as Galway Hookers.  “Not in My Name” follows, another of my top 3, that is has great vocals and varying tempos that goes straight to my soul, pounding my desk or steering wheel depending on where I am listening to the song. “This City Tonight” slows things down but still quite a foot tapper and enjoyably ditty. “Girl That Never” has a retro feel, evoking 60’s pop yet still current, if you are not singing along with the song by the end of it, I would be surprised! “Bad Boy Bubby” is an instantly catchy song that I had stuck in my head hours after listening to it. “Higher” brings to mind 80’s punk and alternative influences but not overly so with Valentino Is Dead still maintaining their domain over their music. “Homage to Hybris” though utilizing some voice synthesis, is not overdone. To me, it is the most somber of the songs on the album but given the catchiness of their songs, still expect to be bopping your head, tapping your fingers or feet as you listen to it. This brings us the last song on the album, and my final top 3, “Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”, this song has been added to Attitude Adjustment playlist – a song to remind you to keep chugging along and as the title says “Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down”! The song is fun and quickly puts a smile to your face.

Valentino Is Dead has put out a great piece of work, one that is socially conscious and fun at the same time. The album is a fun contradiction, giving you some fast, rocking songs but still maintaining a pop catchiness to it. I would highly recommend you check these guys out for some fun listening! You can find their webpage at www.valentinoisdead.com, on Facebook and Twitter. If you sign up at their website, they will send you a link to download “Up Your Anti” for free!

Track listing:

  1. Up Your Anti
  2. Forlorn
  3. A Galway Tale
  4. Not in My Name
  5. This City Tonight
  6. Girl That Never
  7. Bad Boy Bubby
  8. Higher
  9. Homage to Hybris
  10. Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down

Slainte!

The Standards – Dirty Old Town

A while ago I wrote that I was going to periodically write about bands covers of standard songs. I am finally writing up a follow to Come Out Ye Black and Tans. So, for my sequel, I bring to you Dirty Old Town. This past weekend, I have been listening heavily to Dirty Old Town. This song will always remind me of my oldest boy. I had a Pogues CD in the car and would listen to it, which contained the song, never realizing it was imprinting on him. One day, while in the car with his mom, he started singing a song, when asked what it was, he says in his tiny voice “I’m singing Dirty Old Town”. Today thinking about his little voice saying that makes me grin!

While one may think the song is Irish, given the popularity the Dubliners have given it, it is in fact an English song written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 about Salford, England. My first introduction to the song was through the Pogues and hearing it live by Eddie Delahunt, two different versions – rock vs. traditional. In the interest of brevity, I am focusing on the rock covers of the song, by bands in the Folk Punk and Folk Rock genre (sorry Rod Stewart fans, I just can’t bring myself to even try listening to his version.)

The bands I picked for my comparisons are:

  • Off Kilter
  • Cutthroat Shamrock
  • Hoist the Colors
  • Mudmen
  • The Dirges
  • The Tossers
  • American Wake

Each of these bands puts their own spin and touches on a song that has had a lasting impression. None of them play it in the style in the Pogues. Some are a bit more trad and others are much more rocked up. Off Kilters version is more jazzy than the others, starting out with piano, it has a faster tempo, but little emotional impact to me – the song is more fun than soulful. To me, surprisingly enough, The Tossers give it more of the traditional treatment, keeping with the slower pacing. The American Wake bring the tempo up more from The Tossers, starting slower till they explode with some energy. The speed is fun but the mournfulness and soul are lost in the joyful  playing of the song.

The Mudmen and The Dirges rock the song up the most, though The Mudmen make you wait for it, the bagpipes are the most unique feature of The Mudmen’s version and the vocals evoke more anger than mourning, but considering anger is a reactive emotion to pain, mourning, injustice and hurt, it works well. The Dirges don’t tease you with their hard rocking version, straight from th e gates, it is hard and fast, the music and lyrics much more raw.

This brings me to my two favorite versions – Hoist the Colors and Cutthroat Shamrock. Hoist the Colors is the more traditional of the two, easily capturing the evocative emotions of the song, not rushing through, the longing in the vocals. Cutthroat Shamrock’s version clearly belongs to them, with their Appalachian touch to the song that speeds up the tempo, but not too much. The vocals still capturing the emotion of the song while you are tapping your feet on the ground.

There is not a bad version in the bunch, but if I had to choose only one version to listen to, I would have to give it to the mountain men Cutthroat Shamrock, and that would even be over the Pogues version (some may consider that blasphemy, but just my humble ole opinion.)

Slainte!