Lexington Field – No Man’s War Review

no mans warThe new Lexington Field album No Man’s War is filled with strife – physical, societal and emotional. The third release from Lexington Field, based out of San Diego, CA is more mature and continues with the string of deep lyrics that has made me a huge fan of this rocking band that tags itself as American Fiddle Rock. With the maturity, comes thoughtful songs that are chilling and a pleasure to listen to, yet still has the fingerprint of the past Lexington Field songs of great vocals and hard playing intruments. The album contains 14 tracks, 3 of which are instrumental – of those three, two were penned by Lexington Field’s fiddle player Cami Smith.

The album starts with the short instrumental “Fiddle Fister” that sets the tone for this album, feeling a bit dark and somber. It deftly transitions into “American Crow”, a soldiers song of brotherhood and fighting for the cause of freedom. The band is in fine form and before you know it drives you into “Daniel Plainview Has a Drinking Problem”. The song is interesting and once again hard driving and for the movie buffs out there, inspired by “There Will Be Blood”.  “Crazy Eyes” starts out slowly before ramping into gruff vocals by Beau Gray with catchy lyrics and pounding string work. In “Fireworks”, Cami’s fiddle work really shines through. “Rest of Our Days” has a great mix of alternating pace and beautiful work . “Dear Old Friend” is my favorite on the album. Even before listening to it, just reading the lyrics, gave me chills. Once the track started playing, the chills were deeper. As someone battling addictions, I find the lyrics really hit home and spoke to me. The music is haunting and sorrowful, yet there is something comforting in the song. “Variation on Promontory” is the second instrumental that features some great work. “The Chemical Worker’s Song” which was adopted from “The I.C.I. Song” by Ron Angel, is another hard pounding tune with some great riffs. “Here’s to You” is at the top of my favorite songs on this album, between the lyrics and various pacing and great vocals. “Cursing The Man” is a song that feels raw, but isn’t – the music is polished and lyrics stinging. Of the last three songs “Lady Arlington” is the third instrumental that is a rapid foot stomper that is bookshelved between “Pioneer” and “Tumble”, both songs are soulfully deep, speaking to anyone who has suffered the loss of love. Both songs round out my top of the album list.

This album is my favorite of the year so far, and I had really high expectations for this follow up to their EP Poor Troubled Life and it certainly lived up to my expecations. When you do get it (there are no if’s, you HAVE to get it), skip the digital download and get the physical copy. The booklet contains great artwork by Jose Pimienta with each song having it’s art plus you get the lyrics for the songs.

Track listing:

  1. Fiddle Fister
  2. American Crow
  3. Daniel Plainview Has a Drinking Problem
  4. Crazy Eyes
  5. Fireworks
  6. Rest of Our Days
  7. Dear Old Friend
  8. Variation on Promontory
  9. The Chemical Worker’s Song
  10. Here’s To You
  11. Cursing The Man
  12. Pioneer
  13. Lady Arlington
  14. Tumble

Slainte!

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Lexington Field No Man’s War Press Release

no mans warAwesome news! I am so looking forward to hearing what Lexington Field has cooked up and I have extremely high hopes for their upcoming album! Below is their press release for No Man’s War:

LEXINGTON FIELD SET TO RELEASE SECOND FULL-LENGTH ALBUM NO MAN’S WAR ON NEW FOLK RECORDS

SAN DIEGO, CA – Lexington Field announced today they are releasing their second full-length album, No Man’s War, on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 on New Folk Records, in conjunction with Blind Eye Records. Both labels are based out of Minneapolis, MN.
No Man’s War was produced, recorded and mixed by Jeff Berkley at Berkley Sound in San Diego, CA. He is a founding member of the bands Berkley Hart and Citizen Band, and has recorded musicians such as The Lovebirds, Tim Flannery, Josh Damigo, and Gregory Page. The 14-track album was mastered by 4-time Grammy Award winner Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering in Hollywood, CA.

No Man’s War features guest appearances by singer-songwriter Steve Poltz (vocals), Veronica May from The Lovebirds (vocals), Dennis Caplinger (banjo), Anthony Belluto from Horde of Sirens (guitar), Josh Linden from Hoist the Colors (mandolin & vocals) and Matt Maulding from Brick Top Blaggers (accordion).

Los Angeles artist Jose Pimienta, who created the artwork for Lexington Field’s debut album Old Dirt Road (2011) and follow-up EP Poor Troubled Life (2012), returned to do the same for No Man’s War. The album will also include a 20-page booklet of Pimienta’s original sketches.
“No Man’s War is the ultimate American Fiddle Rock album. These 14 songs are dynamic, heartfelt, emotional, and very high- energy. It was an honor to work with such talented musicians during this whole project and to have Jose Pimienta return to provide amazing artwork. Jeff Berkley and Gavin Lurssen are top notch professionals and truly captured our sound. We are so excited to share our American Fiddle Rock songs with the rest of the world!” – Beau Gray, Lead Singer/Guitarist of Lexington Field

The official CD Release show to celebrate No Man’s War will take place on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, CA. Here are the details:

OFFICIAL NO MAN’S WAR CD RELEASE SHOW

SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2013

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND BELLY UP TAVERN

143 S. Cedros Ave.

Solana Beach, CA 92075

Doors at 8 PM, Show at 9 PM

$16 adv/ $18 day of/ $28 reserved

http://www.LexingtonField.com

http://www.NewFolkRecords.com

http://www.BlindEyeRecords.com

Godspeed 2012, Joyful Welcome 2013

As many of my faithful readers know, 2012 was a turbulent year for me. This was a rock bottom year in which I had to make the choice of wallowing or rising above and forging myself into something new and better. I chose the latter route and while I am glad to see 2012 depart, I will always take the lessons learned with me. I look forward to 2013 being a stellar year – musically and personally.

My year started with a resolution of writing more and being more proactive. I had a great start of the year till I made a poor decision one evening and went out, had too much drink and on my way home, wrecked my poor Paddy Wagon and was arrested for a DWI. The morning after, sitting in the impound lot, waiting for AAA to tow my car home, while filled with regret for my poor decision, I was quite thankful I did not hurt physically hurt anyone. It was at that time I made the commitment to sobriety. I was very public with my ordeal, my pain and my decision. While it may have been uncomfortable reading for some, I gained many words of encouragement and support that I cannot even begin to express my gratitude of receiving. Much it was from people in the Celtic Rock and Punk scene, which as many of you know, is quite alcohol fuelled giving me encouragement in my commitment to sobriety.

For months my writing languished as I struggled to work on the demons that drove me to drink and other self-destructive behaviors that have not only hurt me, but those that I love. It was a constructive time for me – I learned much about myself, what drove me and my decisions, learning to trust in myself and gain the inner strength that I never knew was in me. Alcohol has always been a crutch for me. Something to hide behind, something to give me the false sense of strength. Once I stopped hiding who I was, channeling my inner strength, the decision of sobriety was easy.

Over the next few months, I had to miss a few shows that rolled through St Louis – Cutthroat Shamrock, Mighty Regis and Red Rebel County as I was still in severe emotional turmoil.

My first real test of my new life decision was going to a Whiskey of the Damned show. It was my first time in a bar since my fateful night. I went with my friend Ron, who I knew would have my back. My strategy that night was to bring my new camera and take pictures. As the night wore on and I watched some of the most inebriated patrons, I started to feel a strengthening of my conviction. At the end of the show, a quite drunk Eoin McCarthy was attempting to tempt me, to give up my choice and go back home with the band to go to college show full of nubile co-eds. Needless to say, I rejected the offer, knowing I was doing the right thing, not just for me, but for my kids. On my drive home, I drove with calm and peace with the knowledge that I had nothing to worry about it – as far as I am aware, there is nothing illegal with driving with excessive caffeine and nicotine.

After the Whiskey show, I had to face my punishment and accept my loss of driving privileges. I unfortunately missed The Real McKenzies but accepted it with grace as I chose to make my whole experience a learning tool. Not something to bemoan my luck, the cops, the legal institution but to accept my failings and stand tall. Over the years, I had become disconnected from the person I was. I gave up not only my will, but my personality and my voice. I reached back to the last time I was alcohol free – my high school self. I held nothing back, I did not hide myself or my quirks. And during that time, as many of you know by reading (and may be tired of hearing of) “Poor Troubled Life” became the song that  got me through the rough days, the song spoke to me like no other song had before.

Come June/July, I got a message from Beau of Lexington Field they were going to be playing in St Louis in August, during the last two weeks of my restricted driving, which only allowed me to drive for employment or community service. So I could see the band, Beau agreed to hire me as a photographer for the show, so I could have a legal reason to drive. I wrote up a contract, had business cards made and included a pre-shoot consult the day before the show which was conducted at the Cardinals game. That night, Beau really encouraged me to get back to writing, that my voice was being heard. His words that night still help give me the drive to write.

Since that night, I have worked to become more proactive – instead of waiting for bands to contact me and send me their stuff, I have utilized my Xbox Music subscription to find albums to review. I have written a few things to help spread the word about upcoming works. In all, as I have rediscovered myself and become more comfortable in my sobriety I have found my ease in talking to bands has not diminished. I no longer need the social lubricant, I just need to be myself.

So after boring you all, here are some of my top moments of the year

  1. Hanging out Lexington Field on their night off with Chad Ross of Rusty Nail. They are wonderfully down to earth, funny a joy to spend time with
  2. Going to the Weston Irish Festival – yes it was a long day, but it was a blast seeing Flannigans Right Hook up close when the rain ran them off stage. In addition, it brought back some good memories seeing Eddie Delahunt play. Third, it was great to see The Langers Ball play live and meet with the band and get some more grief over my views of their version of “Fields of Anthery” – I still stand by my point of view though!
  3. Yes another road trip – this time going to Urbana, IL to see The Mahones and meeting Finny and Katie. The gratitude of their words about my review of Angels & Devils has been a great motivation to keep writing. I look forward to seeing them play again (they told me they are planning an US tour in 2013 and said St Louis would be a stop!)
  4. In general, the music community of this genre is outstanding! All the friends I have made, even virtually has been fantastic – I hope some day to meet you all in person!
  5. Some of my favorite albums this year, in no order of preference has Hoist the Colors, the Kilmaine Saints, the Killigans, Lexington Field, Flatfoot 56 and Celkilt.

This year has been filled with great music and new friendships. I cannot even place a value on what has meant to me and the reforging of myself into something new and better. So with that I say Godspeed 2012 – you were rough on me, but you have taught me some invaluable lessons.

To 2013, I give a heartfelt and joyful welcome to 2013! This upcoming year should hold many new reviews, with many great bands releasing new albums this year, I am anxious to hear them and write about them. New concerts to see and new bands to discover and new road trips to take. Personally, I look forward to continuing with my personal growth and making new friends (hopefully some that will take said road trips with me, lol.)

So to all my readers and friends, I bid you a happy new year and slainte!

Forged anew, the Red Wolf rises!

Celkilt Self Titled EP (2011) Review

Celkilt_logosepiaThe Cosmic Joker is at it again. I woke up today in a bit of a funk for no discernable reason. When that happens I will put on “Poor Troubled Life” by Lexington Field. With my attitude on the rise, I downloaded Celkilt’s 2011 self titled EP release.

Wow! Talk about an awesome piece of work! Celkilt is a 5 piece band that hails from Lyon, France. Musically beautiful and strong powerful lyrics that really spoke to me today! This EP wad an incredible gift for my soul today! “Get The Hell Away” starts of the 6 track EP strong. Changing tempos and rocking hard will get your feet stamping hard, head banging back and forth. “Let Me Out” continues with it’s incredible lyrics and pacing, again utilizing changing tempos. “Jig It Up” is a gorgeously crafted instrumental highlighting the deft fiddle work of the band. “The Same Old Frown” features more strong lyrics partnered with music that gets you moving. “The War In My Head” features growling vocals and more wonderfully composed music. “Lay Me Down” is a haunting tune that finishes the EP with slower pacing and more electrifying lyrics.

Track listing:

  1. Get The Hell Away
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Jig It Up
  4. The Same Old Frown
  5. The War in My Head
  6. Lay Me Down

Celkilt’s use a varied tempo, insightful lyrics and gorgeously crafted music is amazing. This EP can be utilized for any listening mood – to have playing in the background, to rock out to or giving it a contemplative listen, enjoying the incredible lyrics!

When I do my reviews, I really try to be fair and balanced and not a rubberstamp, so when I say this EP and band are incredible, believe me and listen to them yourself! I look forward to hearing more from them and seeing how they have grown since 2011. So thank you Cosmic Joker for delivering this much needed deliverance today!

If you are a lucky bastard and will be at Shamrock Fest 2013 in Washington, DC you will have to check these guys out (and be sure to tell me about it!)

Slainte!

No Man’s War – Proof 2013 is going to be a great year!

From Lexington Fields Facebook page has been the announcement of their upcoming album title – No Man’s War coming in Spring 2013!

“Every person faces challenges in their own life, and whether or not we overcome them isn’t important. It’s how we are changed by them that defines us. This album is about that transformation. We are excited to announce the title of our new album, arriving in Spring of 2013…”

Hoist the Colors – Miles To Go Before We Can Sleep Review

Hailing from LA, Hoist the Colors brings more attention to the West Coast Celtic Punk family that includes some great acts like Flogging Molly, Lexington Field, The Mighty Regis, Bricktop Blaggers and many more. They have just released a new album, Miles To Go Before We Sleep. I have to say, they have made this review very hard for me! Usually I can find a few songs that really stand out that grab and hold my attention, however on Miles To Go Before We Sleep, I cannot pick any standouts – and I mean that in a great way! Every song has something truly unique and special about it. There are no songs that sound somewhat familiar to another one, they range from mournful, spine tingling songs to feet stomping, rocking songs. From the opening of Dance Through the Days, the pulse quickening rhythms and melodic vocals, I was quickly captured and press ganged into enjoying this genre bending group of talented musicians. From there, it nicely transitions to Gordie Lachance with more rocking beats. From there, it moves to the slow intro into The Curse of Blackbeard Lavoy, which picks up into a rolling song, in which made me feel my old sea legs, rolling on the waves. Atwood moves into a mournful song of love, loss and heartbreak. Hoist the Colors quickly picks up the pieces and ramps it back up into Shackles and Chains. Signs and Symbols slows things down a bit (but not too much) letting me catch my breath – by this time, my feet are getting sore from all the stamping! Curse Hoist the Colors – they sure know how to make for a hard review! I can keep on but honestly I am starting to run out of adjectives without being repetitious. Gold continues the hard rocking, moving into the infectious Silence and Loss. Sail on Sweet Soul is another rolling tune, with fast and slow elements that is constructed beautifully. The Line on the Map is a spine chilling song, mournful and gorgeous in the rich sounds. California, a song of longing from a long distance relationship, brings it up musically. Deuces Wild and A Simple Promise continue with the quicker rhythms that finally ends by rolling into the slower yet uplifting KCT, a song that hits a bit close to home, but as the song says, “but I will carry on.”

Overall, Hoist the Colors, creates an exquisite tapestry with the wonderful vocals, songwriting and music that is a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. This is definitely an album that will be getting a lot of play from me!

The track list is:

  1. Dance Through the Days
  2. Gordie Lachance
  3. The Curse of Blackbeard Lavoy
  4. Atwood
  5. Shackles and Chains
  6. Signs and Symbols
  7. Gold
  8. Silence and Loss
  9. Sail on Sweet Soul
  10. The Line on the Map
  11. California
  12. Deuces Wild
  13. A Simple Promise
  14. KCT

Slainte!

Lexington Field Midwest Missle Tour – St Louis

The last two nights have been incredible fun! From hanging out with Lexington Field on Tuesday and then watching them Wednesday night, it has been a great experience and I look forward to more visits from them.

The show was at Plush and was my first visit to the venue. It had incredible space and the acoustics were good. For those who imbibe, they had a nice selection of on tap beers and even had Guinness on special for the concert (I stuck with iced tea, so I can’t tell you how it was served.)

The evening started with local Celtic Rock band Rusty Nail who rocked out a fair number of their originals including my favorites Deadbeat Daddy Docket Day, Damned Violent Things and Yadier Molina. During their set, Beau hopped up on stage to sing Tell Me Ma with Rusty Nail, giving the crowd a hint to Beau’s energy to come later in the evening! It has been a while since I have been able to see Rusty Nail and it was a great pleasure to experience them live again!

Up next, the main event! It was great to see Beau still sporting his St Louis Cardinals hat for the show and glad his Redbird fever lasted at least 2 days! From the minute Lexington Field started playing, you could easily light a city block with their energy! Cami on fiddle was blistering on she definitely puts the rock into their American Fiddle Rock! Bryan and Casey (even with a hurt hand due to earlier shenanigans of other band members) were slamming  and Vince on the drums was incredible! Not only was Beau rocking out the songs but also being appreciative for the St Louis, from Chad and myself, for the tattoo artist Midwest Rick from TRX Tattoos on South Grand where they got their tour tattoos and for Rusty Nail playing with them.

The biggest highlight of the evening was them playing Poor Troubled Life for me. That song has really helped me through some of my dark days and helped get me through them – so thank you very much guys that meant a lot to me! The whole evening was incredible and too hard to pick more, Galway Bay was incredible, Selfish bastard was phenomenal, Chad Ross and Chris Otto joining the band for a song.

The evening went by too quickly and if i could, I would have followed them to Indianapolis and then up to Chicago to see them with the Fisticuffs! As their popularity grows, i would not be surprised if the get a bunch of traveling groupies like the Grateful Dead, Phish or Widespread Panic – better start thinking of a name for them! Alas the evening had to come to an end, however I saw a fantastic, rocking show and made some new friends! So Beau, Cami, Vince, Bryan, Casey and AJ well met thank you, and till next time!

Check out all the pictures from the concert here and below are just some teasers!

Slainté