Release date: June 14, 2016
Running time: 51:59, 10 tracks + 1 Bonus track
Penn Du (Black Heads) is a 7 piece Breton band based in Yvelines, Île de France (Parisian Region). The band was established in 2003, but the current line-up dates from 2011: Arnaud aka Nono (drums, 2003), Cédrick aka Drics (bagpipes, bombardes, whistles and bckg. vocals, 2003), Xavier aka Xav (keyboards, samples, 2005), Eric aka Gal (lead vocals and guitars, 2007), Anthony aka Anto (lead vocals, trumpet, bass and 12 string guitar, 2009), Sébastien aka Seb (guitars and djembe, 2009) and Raphaël aka Raph (fiddle, trombone, harmonica and bckg. vocals). They released their debut album “Définitivement à l’Ouest!” in 2012 and their sophomore album “Mascarade!” followed in 2016. Penn Du have labeled their music as 100% Rock Ska Celto-Bretonned.
All the tracks on “Mascarade!” are self-penned songs: upbeat Celtic rock with Breton folk influences. The boys say that they are influenced by the likes of Merzhin, Soldat Louis, Tri Bleiz Die, Tri Yann and Alan Stivell.
“Mascarade!” kicks off with “Complainte d’un Roi”, a Breton ska number. This was the first “single” off the album, as a video for this song was shot. Track no. 2 is the amazing “L’esclave”, my fave song on the album. Well-balanced blend of powerful guitars and traditional instruments. It was the second “single” off “Mascarade!” and the video for the song was out in 2018.
“Ar gwyr ar yezhou” is a song in French and Breton featuring bagpipes and fiddle about the respect for the French regions and their own languages (Breton, Basque, Corsican, Catalan and Occitan). “Merlot l’enchanteur” is another ska song featuring tin whistle, fiddle and bombarde. The beat is shifted from ska to reggae towards the end.
The other highlights on the album are, IMHO, “Everezh” and the bonus track “Chanson pour JC”. “Everezh” begins with acoustic guitar and vocals, and then the rest of the band joins in. Fiddle and tin whistle are heard at the beginning and bombarde and fiddle at the end. The song ends up again with acoustic guitar and vocals, together with a live at the pub atmosphere (claps and shouts). “Chanson pour JC” gets an acoustic folk-punk treatment based on djembé and fiddle.
01 – La complainte d’un roi 4:50
02 – L’esclave 4:41
03 – Ar gwir ar yezhoù 3:42
04 – Bertaèyn 4:48
05 – Merlot l’enchanteur 4:03
06 – Etat d’urgence 4:16
07 – La dernière marée 5:50
08 – Fantaisie 4:24
09 – Everezh
10 – Le vieux drapeau rouge 6:20
11 – Chanson pour JC 5:07 (Bonus track – Not listed on the CD)
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Review by Kinksmarkham