Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whiskey of The Damned “Moonshiners and Shoplifters” CD :

I remember the day that I first heard Punk Rock. I think my first taste of Punk was when I was a 12 year old  skateboarder who often would stay up late watching TV and reading comic books in the summertime, when school was out. Something about staying up late when all of the adults were asleep and all was quiet gave me a rare sense of tranquility and made me feel like I was temporarily , King of the Roost.  There was no authority figure to watch over me, so this must have been my first taste of “freedom”.  This new burning spark of optimism and freedom that is such a part of youth, was really ignited one evening , when I was blown away by the Chicano Hardcore Punk band, Suicidal Tendencies, and their music video, “Institutionalized”, how ironic, that a white kid, living in the suburbs at the time, could feel resonance with such a street level tune. But stranger things, have indeed happened. Later, some of my fellow skaters lent me some Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Minor Threat, The Misfits, Dead Milkmen, The Ramones, Gorilla Biscuits, and Agnostic Front, and the rest is history. To hear Jello Biafra scream about death squads, tyranny, demented rednecks, police brutality, corrupt politicians, corporate puppets and mad scientists, really had a profound impact on my teenage brain. As profound as the first time I heard The Pogues version of “ The Recruiting Sergeant-The Rocky Road to Dublin-Galway Races” from their “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” album on the radio program that my dad listened to weekly, “The Thistle and The Shamrock”, or the first time I heard the stirring voice of Luke Kelly.  And that’s probably why I can never pass up the opportunity to hear new musicians carrying on the torch that Joe Hill, Pete Seeger, Luke Kelly, Shane MacGowan, Damien Dempsey, Joe Strummer, and Jello Biafra carried through out the generations, keeping the spirit of radical music alive and kicking.

These upstart Milwaukeeans, led by Dubliner, Eoin McCarthy,  are   like a light in the darkness, with Punk Rock over the years, having become so commercialized, pretentious, plastic and sterile, and another product to market to the brain-dead masses, these Punk Rockers are not victims of fashion, nor obsessed with image, they are just downtown scally wags who drink too much, don’t care what you or your neighbors think and just want to travel the land like modern day Johnny Appleseeds, planting the seeds of rebellion, discontent, discord, do it your self ethics, and most of all, down home, damn good melodies.

This debut full length “Moonshiners and Shoplifters”, does exactly what is described, gets you drunk on their manic musical frenzy, and steal you heart, in one fell swoop, and take you to a place where , who you know, who you are related to, what kind of car you drive, or which political party you do or don’t support, is meaningless,, where all that matters is that you appreciate old time rhythm and are not full of shite, and that you relate to that Hobo Wanderlust that echoes through out their rowdy rhymes and back alley ballads, like the long lost spirit of Woody Guthrie jamming with The Clash. Larger than life, filled with love, grief, lust, joy and strife, these gypsy wanderers have created a mighty melody that will take you to Appalachia, through the streets of Tallaght, and into the crashing waves of memory, headfirst, like a hillbilly that has moved to the city and brought all that rustic charm with him, and kept his old still and banjo, so that the rhythms will always be a little off-kilter but rocking and reeling, nonetheless, always surprising the listener with a sound that is a little Midwestern, and a little Dublin.

Ten tunes of fury pack this stupendous feat of boisterous sing song street symphony and bar room ballads that will keep you drinking, thinking, and dancing, to infectious grooves that remind you of the first time you drank whiskey ---- there’s that burn and then the sense of pure euphoria. In a nutshell, that’s Whiskey Of The Damned.  Like an alley cat that has discovered a hidden stash of catnip, this rough and raw city-billy musical caper will keep your toes a tapping and your ears tuned to a Milwaukee beat that is a little street and a little Kentucky holler.

1st track, “The Wreck”, is like a hobo harmony that has been  cooked over the hot coals of the Rustbelt. Rusty, musty, crusty, dusty and delirious, but delicious to your ears, you imagine music that would have come out of some Frankenstein music monster created by a mad scientist who was able to fuse the genes of a Motown band, spliced with the genes of the Pogues and then injecting them with the DNA of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. It’s a diabolical musical experience that only the Whiskey Of The Damned can summon.

So many superb rockers and ballads on this husky hobo musical platter, but the 2nd track, “Thump Keg” really steals the show like a theif in the night, a fast moving lament to Dublin, that makes you want to dive head first into the intoxicating rhythms of Milwaukee’s musical Beast (because music is soothing this beer-soaked banshee) , Whiskey Of The Damned, a song that sings of personal freedom, whiskey, rock n’ roll, life’s journey,  and the existential quest  of liberation through gut rot hooch and hobo harmonies.

Next, “Enemy of the State” begins with a deceptively calm fiddle introduction and then storms in like a gale force wind, thundering bass, eletronic guitar, unholy drumming and the hypnotic singing of Eoin McCarthy. warning listeners that Nietzsche was right when he commented that,;

    “……State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from it’s mouth:

‘I, the state, am the people.’ ”

But I really don’t want to give away too much, curious readers, but suffice to say that this rowdy punk rocking jig is reason enough for you to want to sip deep from the whiskey wells of Whiskey Of the Damned. And I would be remiss not to mention that , if Eoin’s tribute to Dublin, “El Biblio Techa” and drummer, (guitarist and lead vocalist on occasion,) Andrew David Weber’s assault on dirty politicians and the corrupt nature of politics in  “Cheap Whiskey”, and my all time favorite track on this kick ass CD , “Wayward Waltz of A Drunken Ghost”, is not enough of a reason to make you a life long fan, than you sir or madam, have no soul. And anyone who hears the beautiful harmonies in “Wayward Waltz of A Drunken Ghost” which are nothing short of brilliant, will understand why the Whiskey Of The Damned,  are indeed, living legends, in my humble often, loud , opinion.

            - Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael

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