I understand that “Celtic Punk” is its own genre these days. It wasn’t when it was practiced by The Pogues, and to lesser degrees, by Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones. But, rock and roll seems to get ever more specific in what it does. So, we have music that is rather loud and fast, and incorporates elements like growled vocals, pennywhistles, violins and accordions. I have to actually admit to liking “Celtic Punk” if it is indeed its own genre. It’s rowdy, fast, and fun, which is always good for rock and roll.
The Mahones come by it honestly, actually being Irish and everything. They even brought an old Celtic punk on board for their eighth album, Angels and Devils. Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers comes in for a bit. There’s a bit of metal and even some classic rock poses on this album, which provides some much needed variety to the proceedings. I don’t know if “Celtic Metal” and “Celtic Classic Rock” are actually genres, but they sound good next to the breakneck punk on the album. There’s even a little bit of country mixed into the proceedings? I was going to say something about “Celtic Country”, but since country music derives, in part, from Celtic string band music and balladry, it seems unnecessary.
It’s actually the songs that you are not likely to hear on your local college or community radio station that are really the best bits on the album. Shakespeare Road, Whiskey Train, and The Revolution Starts Now are all great breakneck punk songs, but, I guess part of Celtic Punk is throwing in a few swear words. There are a couple of medleys of traditional Irish songs, I’m not too sure how I feel about them, but they’re there and they’re listenable.
The more radio friendly title track is a good enough rocker and can find an appropriate niche on non-commercial radio. There are maybe even some of the more adventurous Adult Album Alternative stations out there. Katie McConnell joins in with lead singer Finny McConnell on Angel without Wings/ Merry Christmas Baby, which may, someday become an alternative Christmas favorite.
Let me amble toward the end by saying that I was very pleasantly surprised a more than serviceable cover of Hüsker Dü’s Makes No Sense At All. As much as I love them, I hate how they always make me go to the “insert” function to gram a couple u’s with umlauts.