2016-04-21 ALBUM REVIEW: ALTERNATIVE ULSTER "Rebellion!" (2016)

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Alternative Ulster “Rebellion!”Poe Records POE 076
Release date: February 15th, 2016
Running time: 48:55, 16 tracks

Shite’n’Onions has been the main inspiration for Celtic Folk Punk and More. John Murphy began to spread the word in 2001 and a lot of people in the scene (musicians, reviewers and podcasters) have strong ties with the ORIGINAL Celtic Punk e-zine. Although Shite’n’Onions is currently not so active as other e-zines, John Murphy keeps on supporting the scene and from time to time he introduces some brilliant bands to us. His latest discovery is Alternative Ulster, a bagpipe punk band from Ulster County, NY.

Alternative Ulster are Michael X. Rose (vocals, bass, extra guitars), Sean Mag Shamhrain (warpipes, vocals), Eric Pomarico (drums, vocals) and Dan Carey (vocals, bodhrán, guitar). “Rebellion!” is their debut album, a well-balanced mix of self-penned songs and punk and Celtic covers. Former member Gerard McCluskey played second rhythm guitar on all tracks except “The British Are Burning Kingston”.  The album has been produced and mixed by Michael X. Rose (who also created the artwork) and even if the sound is unpolished (sometimes a little bit “dirty”), the pipes can be clearly heard on every song. And that’s something that I really appreciate, since some producers tend to put down the volume of the pipes and forget that the listeners want to hear the pipes. Michael is a member of the band and then he knows how they want to sound.

The first song is “Riot in the Rondout” (“the waterfront area notorious for street brawls”) and it has a Ramones twist.

The next track is titled “Irish Wake”, a streetpunk number with Hey shouts. It’s followed by “Ten Guns for Kingston”, an oi! infused song.

Track no. 4, “Jenny Metals”, reminds me of the Breton band Black Label Zone earlier stuff. Lots of shouts (another band’s stamp) and a second bagpipe played by Josie Rose can be heard on this traditional tune.

Seventeen” aka “I’m a Lazy Sod” is a Sex Pistols cover. Mr. Irish Bastard covered the full Sex Pistols debut album, but I think that this is the first time that a bagpipes punk band covers the Sex Pistols.

Bannerman Island Ghost Wench” has a pipes band twist. Great pipes theme. “Mary McCarthy” is slightly different, since it features tin whistle by guest Scott Benson.

Ulster County Break” gets a Sham69 treatment and “Highland Cathedral” is full of yeehas and screams, together with a military snare played by guest Duke Bunce. Imagine a pipes band turning into a punk rock band and you get the picture.

Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail” features a tight rhythm section and a chorus to sing along. The Ramones classic song “Blitzkrieg Bop” is improved by the addition of a well-known pipes tune, “Itchy Fingers”. The next song, “The British Are Burning Kingston” is a self-penned song too that “recalls October 17 of 1777 when the British put Kingston, NY to the torch”. Another pipes tune is also added, “The Atholl Highlanders”.

Track no. 13 is a pipes rendition of Dougie MacLean’s “The Gael”. Obviously it differs from the fiddle led renditions by the likes of Firkin and Lexington Field. Duke Bunce guests on this number too on military snare. The pipes band from track no. 9 drank too much Guinness and Jamesons while they were listening to The PoguesWildcats of Kilkenny” and “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go”, then they took their instruments and the final result was this version of “The Gael”. Bloody brilliant!!!

The next song is another cover: “If the Kids Are United”, a song that was previously by Black Tartan Clan on their second album (BTW, they also covered “Highland Cathedral”). A traditional tune and some claps have been added to this kick-ass rendition.

The Ghost Piper” is the last original song on the album. The music is based on a traditional tune too.

The closing number is a Black Sabbath cover, “Supernaut”, where the guys show their Celtic rock/bagpipes rock edge.

Rebellion!” is housed in a jewel case. The band’s line-up, guests, acknowledgements and studio credits are all stated on the inlay card. The song credits are mentioned on the track list, together with some band’s pics. The front cover celebrates the Irish Easter Rising of 1916.

Alternative UlsterRebellion!” is a must have for any bagpipes punk fan. If you think that you’ve heard any possible approach of bagpipes punk, you are wrong. Get this album and you’ll agree with me that these guys have their own identity.


Shite’n’Onions album review can be found HERE and London Celtic Punks album review HERE.


Tracklist:

01. Riot in the Rondout 02:19
02. Irish Wake 02:05   
03. Ten Guns For Kingston 02:56   
04. Jenny Metals 02:45   
05. Seventeen 01:47   
06. Bannerman Island Ghost Wench 03:46   
07. Mary McCarthy 02:05   
08. Ulster County Jailbreak 03:58   
09. Highland Cathedral 02:55
10. Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail 03:34
11. Blitzkrieg Bop 02:35   
12. The British are Burning Kingston 02:04   
13. The Gael 04:24   
14. If the Kids are United 03:46
15. The Ghost Piper 03:25
16. Supernaut 04:25

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Review by Kinksmarkham

 
 
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