Celtic punk

Anyone who knows us, knows our love for all things Celtic.? Whether it’s Boston’s basketball team, The Pogues, Arthur Guinness, that crazy step dancing, tweed, those accents, whatevs.? There is something irrepresible about Irish culture.? Last night we cruised down to Millenium Music for what we thought was a short in store performance by Flogging Molly, but alas it was just a meet and greet.? Very disappointing.

But we can’t let St. Patty’s Day weekend go by without the mere mention of Celtic Punk.

To truly explore the broader implications of this musical form requires deep understanding of many factors: the Irish diaspora, the evolution of fusion forms in music, the confluence of post-punk folk and the adolescent mindset, the modern commercialism of St. Patrick’s Day. Such scope is beyond the purview of any blog. But considering the genre as a form of folk sheds new light on what is increasingly a sound recognizable from Galway to Graceland.

Though genre originators The Pogues came at Celtic punk from the streetpunk movement of our parents’ generation, Celtic punk is also legitimately a subset of folk punk, a category which also includes folk rockers The Weakerthans and the early work of Billy Bragg, and is characterized by a sneering, often politicized attitude, high-energy performance, and electrified speed, even in unplugged mode. To this, Celtic punk adds the traditional instruments of Celtic rock music — guitar, pipes, fiddle, bodhran, and the occasional squeezebox — and the song structure and lyrical trope of the traditional Irish folk form.

The result is as diverse as it is distinctive. The definable sonic sector that is Celtic punk includes everything from slightly lilted folk rock ballads to traditional jigs at moshpit speed. Yet despite the differences, the realm is still definable for its lyrical ground in the plight of the working class, and — perhaps more obvious to the layperson — its worldbeat sound, full of high pipes and the unmistakable trope of the Irish pubsong.

And I would agree with that assessment.? Though when mentioning bands like The Pogues, Dropkick Murphy (more punk than Celtic), Black 47 (who just put out an awesome album Iraq) or Young Dubliners the article fails to mention Flogging Molly.? Still though it’s a good article to kick off the weekend with.

The Pogues, or the band that started it all.? Man is Shane McGowan ugly.

Flogging Molly – “Drunken Lullabyes”

Young Dubliners – “What Do You Want From Me?”

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  • boyhowdy March 14, 2008, 2:05 pm

    I’m a Flogging Molly fan, too…and I struggled with a way to include them in my post, I swear. But Cover Lay Down is a cover blog…and while I have a score of Flogging Molly songs in my collection, to my immense surprise, they were all original compositions! This is, of course, a credit to them — it just means their inclusion on a coverblog was ultimately too tricky to manage.

    That said, if anyone HAS a digital copy of Flogging Molly covering either a traditional song or the work of another of their contemporaries, PLEASE send it along to boyhowdy [at] gmail — I do a (Re)Covered post once a month or so which goes back to previous entries and adds that which should have been, had it cropped up in time.)

    Glad you liked the review, folks — thanks for the credit and the link-back. Oh, and if you think Shane is ugly in that video, you should see him when he’s NOT all prettied up for the fans. A simple google image search will make you shudder, I promise.

    – Boyhowdy, host

  • daniels March 14, 2008, 11:01 am

    mybe it is interesting for you, that there is a very vital scene about celtic rock and punk inGermany: http://www.celtic-rock.de