We’re already into May, and it’s fair to say there’s been a few really good releases this year of the celt-punk persuasion. However, you can add one more to that list, as the boys from Pittsburgh, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, have their new album out today, and
The Steel City natives have been around for a couple of years now, having grown from a one-off tribute for a departed friend, to doing the rounds in local pubs, to three full albums and being in such prestigious company as The Rumjacks, Dropkicks, Gogol Bordello and The Mahones on tour. And, on listening to the latest release, “Drinkin’ To The Dead”, they’re certainly not out of place in comparison. 15 tracks blending folk, punk, gypsy, and balls-to-the-wall rock n’ roll guaranteed to get you singing, swaying and pogo-ing along. In a sense, the band have come full circle back to their origins, in that this album is a tribute to departed friends and family in the only way they know.
The album opens with a blasting 3-and-a-half minutes of celtic punk on “Salutations, Memoirs, Denouements”, then quickly shifts to the bouncing gypsy melodies of “No Problems, No Drama”, a track that shows off the range that these guys are capable of. From raucous sing-a-long parts to a slower mesmerising instrumental and back again, it sets the bar for the rest of the album.
“Let’s Have A Party” is a good time call-to-arms that is exactly what the title suggests, and just when you think they’ve slowed it down again with a cracking cover of “Dirty Old Town”, they then go and speed things up for the final couple of minutes. This is a band that I’d imagine would keep you on your toes live.
The celtic and gypsy folk elements continue to come through on the next couple of tracks, “Harvest” sounding like it could be a Dubliners instrumental, and “Ya Ya Ya” standing up to anything on a Gogol Bordello album. A brief intermission in the middle of the album about, you’ve guessed it, having a drink and a good time, will still have you singing along at the top of your voice after the first chorus.
“Another Bottle Of Booze” kicks off the second half of the album, and it’s a swaying, drinks in the air moment, appropriately enough, and “Green Side Of The Hill” is a slow-burning, dub infused highlight with a rip-roaring finish. “Drunken Drinkin’” is rock n’ roll folk punk at its best; “Slip (the) Jig” and “Pirates Of Three Rivers” channels their inner nautical selves, and “What A Life That Would Be” leads you into thinking it’s a ballad until it kicks you in the face with their full on folk n’ roll style.
It’s the end of the album where they save the most ambitious part for. The titular “Drinkin’ To The Dead” is in two parts: a piano-led prelude that evokes the memory of those gone but not forgotten, leading into an absolute belter of a closing track that at times has shades of the live version of “Black Friday Rule” to it. It’s a storming 7+ minutes showcasing the enormous talent the band has, and is sure to be a massive favourite at gigs.
Put simply, BBI are here to have the best time they could possibly have, and it shows with this release. Grab a beer or whiskey, put this on, and fail to be able to sit still. One of the best albums of 2018 is here.
Top tracks: “Drinkin’ To The Dead”, “No Problems, No Drama”, “Green Side Of The Hill”.
Bastard Bearded Irishmen
Get the album here: