The Mahones

The Black Irish

Written by: PP on 29/08/2011 20:18:26

There's hardly a better way to start an Irish folk punk album than having your vocalist drunkenly mumble in an authentic Irish accent "It's six in the morniiiing...and I still fuckin drinkiiing" to the choir of accordion and fiddle on the background, which then morphs into a high-energy irish folk punk in the same vein as the early Flogging Molly records. I'm of course talking about the eighth studio album by The Mahones, an early inspiration to the aforementioned band, whose Dublin-born singer is the perfect frontman you want singing drunken lullabies about knocking back whiskeys and beers like there's no end to melodies that are most of all fun before anything else. Yes, "The Black Irish" is quintessential Irish folk punk, but it also integrates some traditional rock influences much like Flogging Molly did on "Speed Of Darkness" a few months later. So it isn't particularly original, but that's no problem, since it is convincing and enjoyable enough for me to call out that it is the album Flogging Molly should have written instead of their own disaster.

As you might expect, mandolin and banjo play a huge part in the sound of The Mahones (as they have done in the past), giving way for a booze-fuelled Irish folk punk sound that's as authentic as it is fun. Consider the following example: "Well I've been at The Wild Rover for many a year, and I've spent all my money on whiskeys and beer", cue in high-tempo Irish folk punk with lots of energy and lots of drunken arguments and shouting on the background (something about Jägermeister), and simple oi oi oi shouts in the middle...yeah, it is pretty much an archetypical example of how Irish folk punk should sound like, and therefore also a great example of why the genre's so great fun when done right.

It isn't the only example either, as many similarly excellent drunken danceathons are spread across the record, serving as the party-starters (or as the incentives to get people out to the dance floor later on), but fortunately the record offers a little more variation than that. "Ghost Of A Whiskey Devil", for instance, is a drunken (this is a trend across the album, you see) ballad which slows down the tempo for some more emotional stuff about, yes, drinking, and "A Pain From Yesterday" has a different kind of playful irish melody, but still one which will get people shaking on the dance floor and clinking their arms with strangers all around them from the sheer joy of dancing in a haze. Then you have the more traditional rock songs as well, such as "The Blood Is On Your Hands", "Whiskey Under The Bridge" and "Give It All Ya Got (Or Forget About It)", which lean into classic rock and their influences from the 70s and 80s, though still with an Irish taint in order to not reach out too far outside of the comfort zone.

In general, "The Black Irish" is best seen as a celebration of Irish culture. There are a lot of references to whiskey, Irish pubs, bar fights, and things like that, but also other topics like the national symbol of shamrock, all delivered with the intention of having a ton of fun and leaving the overtly serious tone at home. And because the album is structured so similarly to the one by Flogging Molly this year (which was released half a year later, mind you), it's unavoidable to place them in direct comparison, and when you do that, it's crystal clear which comes on top by a long shot.

Download: A Great Night On The Lash, The Wild Rover, The Blood Is On Your Hands, Paint The Town Red
For the fans of: Rovers Ahead, Flogging Molly, The Pogues
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.01.2011
True North Records

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