When myself and Elliott started talking about who would like to review what for this site, I replied with one word: “Dreadnoughts”.  The Vancouver band have been one of my own long-standing favourites, ever since hearing 2009’s “Victory Square” for the first time, and being blown away by the borderline genius/insanity of their unique blend of folk, punk, polka, klezmer, and cider. They’ve now been doing their thing for 10 years, and there’s now a long-awaited (and overdue) release in “Foreign Skies”, the first new album for 6 years.


A sort-of “concept” album themed around the experiences of the First World War, it starts unexpectedly sombre (for this lot) with “Up High”, but by the time the title track rolls around, the bands signature folk frenzy takes centre stage, quickly switching from crunchy punk, polka instrumentals, sea shanties, to an Ennio Morricone sounding intro that leads into a kick-you-in-the-face punk lament with “Anna Maria”. After this the album lurches back into the 100 mile-an-hour punk polka that The Dreadnoughts do so well with belters like “Jericho” and “Gavrilo”, until near the end of the album and the tone shifts again with the piano-led poem “A Broken World” and “Black Letters” (which is fittingly reminiscent of Street Dogs’ “Final Transmission”). Of course, any album by this band would be incomplete without some form of love letter to the West Country (“Back Home In Bristol”), although in keeping with the theme of the album, from the point of view of a normal soldier out in the hells of the frontline. It rounds the album off on a more positive celebration of home, familiar settings, and of course, a pint of cider.

The masterstroke of The Dreadnoughts is that they’ve consistently made the different influences work together, so that none of it ever sounds out of place or used just for the sake of it. Every bit of this album feels essential to what they were aiming to achieve, fusing Europe-wide folk roots and the energy and anger of punk, with the personal viewpoints of the average working-class men finding themselves thrown into the mouth of hell itself. There’s no triumphalism here, just real stories being told with a pint-in-the-air tribute, always respectful of the subject matter but still danceable, sing-a-long brilliance. A must own album for 2017.

  • Mike (Mersey Celt Punks)


Buy the album here:

Video for “Back Home In Bristol”:

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