So this year marks 10 years of the Rumjacks. Arguably the most excited band in celtic punk today and well possibly ever. There debut album “Gang of New Holland” (2008) was voted best celtic punk album ever by London Celtic Punks (People who actually know what they are talking about. Link at the bottom) and since then have released 2 more exception albums “Sober and Godless” (2015) and “Sleepin Rough” (2016). If you take a second to take that in. Better than any Dropkicks album; better than any Flogging Molly album; better than any POGUES album. It is a pretty bold statement that took me a while to come to terms with and then you press play again, ready to argue and realise that they were right all along.
This year sees the bands fourth album “Saints Preserve Us” an album that has a lot to live up to based on the high standards set and true to form it smashes all expectations. Massively varied throughout but still fitting perfectly into that Rumjacks bracket.
The album kicks off with the title track and first single “Saints Preserve Us” a bouncy track with an underlying cynicism that captures that signature Rumjacks approach to folk / ska punk. It eases you in and sets the tone for the rest of the album. In the first week of it being on youtube the video is averaging 10,000 views a day so im guessing im not the only one who likes it.
Then the other side of the Rumjacks is the rowdy full steam ahead celtic punk joy that you may be more familiar and that is exactly where “Billy Mckinley” kicks in. The tin whistle comes out and you instantly want to be back in the Irish pub with your pint raised high and covering anyone everyone who enters your radius. Seems like its soon to be favourite in the live setting.
“Bus Floor Bottles” the band gets down to some serious punk rock with faster paced vocal than any other Rumjacks song to date as far as I can tell. Definite grower, great track.
Something a bit different next with “An Poc Ar Buile (The Mad Pluck Goat)” a reworking of a poem by Donal O’Mullain about a goat that kicked off on Cromwell’s Army. Sung almost completely in Gaelic and quite different to The Chieftains version of the same poem and there are bagpipes. BAGPIPES! Wasn’t expecting that, its bloody brilliant!
“Last Orders” starts off slowly and kicks in with some great mandolin/bouzouki I struggle telling them apart, either way Adam has smashed it. Massive sing along track if you not singing “for all the tea in china” by the end clearly were not listening to the same track as the rest of us.
“Cold London Rain” from first listen is one of the big stand out tracks from the album. Imagine Rancid mixed with Frank Turner. You want to listen to it now! Superb storytelling lyrics and a one of the best blending of folk and punk in a song that I have heard in a long time.
I have read a few reviews of previous Rumjacks album which mention them sounding like a mix of The Clash and The Pogues. Cant argue with that but it has always been the two sounds blended into one. “Fare Evader” take those two sounds and switches between the 2 extremes. Starting off in an almost dub reggae style for the verses and then kicks in to full celtic stomping before going seamlessly back to the reggae.
“The Foreman O’Rouke” featuring the legend that is Paul McKenzie of The Real Mckenzies splitting the vocal duties with Frankie. Originally performed by Matt McGinn this is a million miles from the slow meandering folk in its purest form but instead is brought right upto date. Fast paced loads of fun and you know the second the bagpipes (yes, more bagpipes curtesy of Mickey Rickshaw) kick in you know that standing still is no longer an option. If they ever tour together and plan to do this live come see me I’m pretty sure I will be down the front. The track is also planned to be on the next Real McKenzies album. Check out the original for the compare and contrast.
The tin whistle at the start of “A Smugglers Song” sound like it is about to go into version of The Auld Triangle and then from out of nowhere turns into Jolly Executioner and the Rumjacks party starts again. Great song, just what you want and expect from The Rumjacks.
Well then, “A Dozen Good Reasons To Weep” features my favourite lyric on the album “I’ve got a lots of teeth for a smart arse” and also the most unexpected point in the album in the form of an almost mariachi style breakdown.
“If it kills me” could well be a Pogues song. Put “If I should fall from the Grace of God” (1988) on, play this in the middle and it would not be questioned. I don’t like to say it because the word is overused and loses meaning but it is incredible, flawless and beautiful friggin masterpiece.
Saints Preserves us wraps up with my favourite track on the album “Cupcakes”. A full on, tongue in cheek meltdown directed at the punk scene and probably soon to knock “Blow and Unkind Words” of the top spot of my favourite Rumjacks Songs.
So if there is a better way to say you NEED this album in your life I don’t currently know it. Buy it then go see them live a monster tour going all over the place kicks off in the next few weeks. UK tour starts early next year.
Best Rumjacks album yet? Its a tough one.
Saints Preserve Us is out worldwide 12th October 2018. Order from MacSlons. (link below)
- Elliott (Mersey Celt Punks)