Smokey Bastard – Tales From The Wasteland

With more fun, energy and deliriously addictive punked up melodies than should be legally allowed comes the new album from UK punk folksters Smokey Bastard. The seven piece from Reading unleash Tales From The Wasteland via Bomber Music on October 31st bringing 13 tracks of essential raucousness from their tavern of intoxicating mix of traditional folk, real punk, and deeply infectious enthusiasm.

Since forming in early 2007 the band has whipped up a strong reputation and following for no holds live shows and a sound that brings the bands influences into a frenzied and irresistible sound of their own creating music that teases and plays upon the instinctive rebel within us all. Tales From The Wasteland the follow up to their debut album Propping Up The Floor last year, is further evidence and impressive proof that the combination of Macca (Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin), Mike Wood (Vocals, Bass), Matt (Guitars, Banjo), Nick (Accordion, Mandolin), Andy (Tin Whistle, Guitars, Banjo), Aled (Banjo, Mandolin) and Buttons (Drums), make music that excites the ear and deeper.

Smokey Bastard takes flavourings from the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, though their sound is more removed from the celtic punk sound towards the earlier beginnings of folk punk. They come from a rogue punk base as brought forth in the 80’s by the likes of The Pogues, the use of mandolins, banjos and tin whistles alongside the electrified aggressive energy a mesmeric blend. The brilliant ‘Wasteland’ opens up the album and instantly tells you all you need to know about the band to want more and more of their boisterous and rousing sound. Starting with a slow and firm crawl as the gruff vocals of Macca declares this wasteland my “sweet fucking home” the track erupts into a rowdy and beckoning invite to join its anthemic charms.

Showing their skills and varied influences the melodic folk instrumental ‘Token Folkin’’ skips into view next before unleashing more infectious folk punk frenzy with ‘Eden Holme  as rasping vocals and group shouts add to the engaging melodic play. The interplay between the mandolins and bass towards the end has the foot tapping even harder than before and as with every song on the album brings the feeling of defiant celebration, ‘Mongrel’ coming up next the perfect proof with its proud, irrepressible and urgent dynamism. There is a slight ska lining to the song that brings more effortless and eager response from the senses.

Four tracks in and the album already had stated its claim for essential listening classification and album of the year nomination. Songs like ‘My Son John’ a wonderful and humorous folk acapella piece that reminded of 80’s band The Dancing Did, the exhilarating ride of instrumental ‘Mong Some Hoof’, and the mesmeric storytelling of ‘Cheer Up, Love (Worse Things Happen At Sea)’ a breathtaking tale that galvanises the senses, all continue and increase the carefree but wonderfully inspiring atmosphere. One gets the feeling the band would like to be seen as being a bunch that just turn up and play or throw things together for a laugh but their musicianship and stirring songwriting reveals all.

The single from the album ‘Yuppie Dracula’ is another excitable and appealing track though not the best on the album but with the immensely grin inducing ‘Dear Mol’ a bittersweet leaving note to an ex- lover which twists things up when she comes back with her own snarl mid song via a great female vocal, and the reflective report on past failures in the splendid punk edged ‘‘Aspirations, I Have Some‘, keeps the album at its great and impressive level.

Tales From The Wasteland is a fully satisfying release of great incessant joy, its lively and rip-roaring sounds guaranteed to brighten up any day and most of all the album again shows Smokey Bastard as one of the best and strongest rock bands in the UK.

RingMaster 11/10/2011

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