Release date: May 5th, 2018
Running time:29:04, 10 tracks
Hold Fast is a six piece band from Harrisburg, PA. So they are neighbours with The Kilmaine Saints. Hold Fast is Cole Brown (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Dave Thompson (tenor banjo, 5-string banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, piano, background vocals), Michael Parks (drums, percussion, background vocals), Buzz Klinger (bass, harmonica, background vocals), Kayla Rosencrans (tin whistle, background vocals) and Jon Heller (accordion, bagpipes, background vocals). Their debut album is titled “Black Irish Sons” and that’s what Phil Duckworth aka The Grinning Beggar from Paddy Rock Radio stated recently on facebook “Definitely one of my favorite of the year this year and totally epitomizes what Celtic Punk is meant to be!”
“Gangway” is the first cut on the CD. There is a bagpipes intro and the sounds of glasses and people in a pub. Then, the percussion and the banjo leave way to the full band after some “Gangway” shouts. Brilliant opening in the DKM vein with gang vocals and electric guitar.
The next number is titled “Drunken Irish Bastard”. Some banjo before Cole tells us that he’s an Irish drunken bastard. More gang vocals follow before the song gets a punk treatment with guitars and some accordion on the background.
Track number three is a crowd favourite, “The Banshee Wail”. Cole sings a cappella and little by little mandolin, electric guitar and the rhythm section join in. The dichotomy between acoustic and electric instruments is kept all along the song and it pays off. The tin whistle at the end is a little bit hidden in the mix though.
“My Girl is a Singer in a Punk Rock Band” is a fantastic punk number with woahs, tin whistle and more guitars. Imagine The Skels pushing to their punk end and you get the picture.
Fans of Lovecraft will recognize the name of track no. 5, “Cthulhu“. The first half of the song features vocals, acoustic guitar and some bass, but the drums and the electric guitar find their place at the second half of the song.
There are two trad. numbers on “Black Irish Sons” and the first one is Hold Fast‘s rendition of “I’ll Tell Me Ma”: “Belle of Belfast”. The song gets the Celtic punk treatment with guitars and mandolin.
Cut no. 7 is the title track, “Black Irish Sons”. Electric guitar from the very beginning and powerful vocals. I daresay that Hold Fast sounds like In For a Penny if the band from Georgia add some electric instruments to their line-up.
“Curse of the Drinking Class” (pub version) showcases the band’s quieter side, with accordion and tin whistle.
The album is coming to its end and Hold Fast deliver a kick-ass pirate number with banjo, electric guitar and gang vocals: “Pour Me Grog”.
To finish up, Hold Fast have chosen a song from The Wolfe Tones repertoire, “Big Strong Man” (aka “My Brother Sylveste”). The boys and girl from Harrisburg play a fantastic Celtic punk version that can rival with The Pubcrawlers’ rendition.
Hold Fast is the next big thing on the East Coast Celtic punk lineage. The only “flaw” that I find is that the electric instruments “outweigh” sometimes the tin whistle and the accordion. But, apart from that, a brilliant debut album.
01. Gangway 03:16
02. Drunken Irish Bastard 02:38
03. Banshee Wail 03:44
04. My Girl is a Singer in a Punk Rock Band 02:51
05. Cthulhu 03:37
06. Belle of Belfast 01:15
07. Black Irish Sons 02:42
08. Curse of the Drinking Class (Pub Version) 02:47
09. Pour Me Grog 03:00
10. Big Strong Man 02:52
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Review by Kinksmarkham