Tuesday, December 30, 2008

out of the morning mist and thro' the silent snow

While on the hunt for all the songs I found (or failed to find) on YouTube (I'm now searching alternate sources, because I want to know), I found an intriguing forum question on the Metal Archives board.

Here's some lovely new finds from there:

Eluveitie is variously described as "folk metal" and "Celtic pagan metal". They're what's becoming an expected metal off-branch--sweet female voices, overdriven guitar, solid drumming, and traditional instruments filling in the bare spots--creating a hard, powerful wall of rippling chrome for your ears, that still possesses light lyrical moments.

Inis Mona (harsher than the others, but just as good for metal fans)
Slania (from their latest album of the same name)

They also have a MySpace page.

Taisgeal Clachan also have a MySpace page, which says they're currently on hiatus. Damn. But they still have songs up on that page you can listen to--they seem heavily inclined to moody instrumentals, blended traditional/wired instruments.

Omnia is again one of those quirky groups: they're Dutch, but they're drawn to Celtic music. Well, the Celts did go everywhere...This is from their web page:

"Playing self-composed 3rd-millennium Folk and world-music with a sprinkling of traditional melodies and dance tunes from places like Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan, OMNIA's music is 100% acoustic - no synthesizers, no electric instruments, no programming, just pure honest music."

Neat. Some examples:

Wytches' Brew
Tine Bealtaine
Morrigan (performed live)

Stille Volk comes from France, and is also drawn to Celtic music. They seem more traditional in their approach, but do have power instruments, and tendencies towards hard rock and metal that surface occasionally:

Invocation a Pan
Maudat, from the album of the same name
Espris des bois
Ode aux lointains souverains

They have a MySpace page, too.

Corona Borealis is unique in their commitment only to use acoustic instruments. Of course, they also have only one album, that I've been able to verify. Here's to the release of their second.

Cantus Paganus
Loss of an Exception (harder, and live)
La Rotta

They also have a MySpace page.

The Elders are fully a decade old as a band, and came out of Kansas City to Celtify (it's a word!...sort of) American roots music. And they've done a damned good job:

Men of Erin (live in Dublin)
1849 (live in Illinois)
Lucky One Time (live in Wilmington)

They have a MySpace page.

Planxty is a given, and if you've never heard Planxty, then have you heard Silly Wizard, Silly Sisters, Steeleye Span and/or Fairport Convention?

(For that matter, if your answer to any of the above bands is "No, never heard"--then get thee hence to the feet of Jethro Tull, and begin learning!)

If it helps at all, that scattershot mention-all-at-once had a purpose--all of these bands were foundational to the evolving of Celtic music, as all these bands are variously interpreting it. Fairport Convention led the way, either concurrently or just before Jethro Tull; Jethro Tull went biggest, but Fairport, Silly Wizard, and Steeleye were huge amongst afficionados. Silly Sisters was comprised mainly of women who'd sung with Steeleye and Fairport, and Planxty is the thread that runs through them all.

The one thing that all of these, barring Silly Sisters, were known for was developing the unique fusion of modern instruments playing traditional songs--be they traditional Irish, French, or English ballads, it was still a shock in the late sixties clear through to the late seventies for such a melding to sound anything but unnatural for devotees. Conversely, non-fans of Celtic or folk music found themselves drawn in because of the modern sounds they were able to recognize, and learned to love traditional folk music along the way.

It really was the best of both worlds, in a sense. And it's continued, in one form or another, until now.

Which brings us to Cruachan:

Over a decade of moving from a closely traditional sound towards the evolving 'folk metal' category; they still plan on retaining touches of the traditional, but have always infused it with electronic riffs and heavy modern drum beats. As we've seen with many, many other bands, this is no bad thing.

Ride On
The Death of a Gael
The Children of Lir

Lothlorien is a little harder to find information on. Based out of New Zealand, they have all of one album out, Greenwood Sides. But their sound is plaintively traditional, and I have no fear they'll keep recording.

Turning in another direction entirely, the site also brought up Flogging Molly, the bastard boys of Los Angeles. I'd also toss in the Dropkick Murphys out of Boston, and the godfather of them all, the gentlemen behind the Pogues. If there are three bands that define Celtic punk, these men are it (though you can have fun with Blood or Whiskey as well)

A little taste of Celtic punk:

Workers' Song, Dropkick Murphys (live)
I'm Shipping Up to Boston, Dropkick Murphys
The Dirty Glass, Dropkick Murphys (live w/Stephanie Daugherty)

If I Should Fall From Grace with God, the Pogues
Fairytale of New York, the Pogues (live w/Kirsty Macoll)
Dirty Old Town, the Pogues

Drunken Lullabies, Flogging Molly
What's Left of the Flag, Flogging Molly (live)
If I Ever Leave This World Alive, Flogging Molly
Swagger, Flogging Molly

And just for fun:

They Say No, Blood or Whiskey

And we're going to start winding things up with Lúnasa, which brings us back to the heart of traditional Celtic music, in lovely, simple ways.

Lunasa, for the whole of their decade-plus in the industry, has made their claim to fame by stripping old standards and original work alike down to the bare bones: what drives the beat? What is the heart of melody? What is the simplest crossing harmony? And they determinedly hold to that, keeping things close, clear, and clean.

Some examples:

Black River
Inion Ni Scannlain
The Last Pint (live)

And thank all of you who read through this for putting up with a music post that had no SL references, nor steampunk ones. I promise, I'm working my way back.

(Also mentioned on that metal forum were the Chieftains, in a very odd reference indeed:

"This may sound strange, but The Chieftains have made some wonderful traditional celtic music as well."

Um. Yes, that would be...because they're a Celtic band.)

Finally, always remember: Rick Astley will have his revenge. Hee.


Peter Stindberg said...

You might enjoy "Fiddler's Green", German band playing something they call "Irish Independent Speedfolk". It's not Metal by far, but it is hard and driven and more of a celtic fusion, celtic rock version.

I also recommend "Enter the Haggis" from Canada - if you get a chance to listen to "Lancaster Gate" make sure you turn the volume up!

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Well, there goes my music budget.


Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

Interesting collection you have there. Some I know, some I've heard *of* (rather than having heard). Silly Wizard is only a recent discovery for me. Jethro Tull never really interested me, though I may have to revisit their music and see if it has grown on me in the intervening years.

And I'm shocked that The Chieftans would have some traditional Celtic music. Next will be some piffle about the ocean having fish!

Emilly Orr said...

Peter: Irish Independent Speedfolk. Okay, that hurts the brain. Also: wau. Okay, I have a new request for RR DJs. "Folk's Not Dead"...done by punker German lads into Celtic folk. :)

Enter the Haggis on the other hand, bears more listening to. And again, the American blind spot is so huge--they've been around for ten years, I haven't heard of them. It's like we're programmed to ignore all cool Canadian things...

Emilly Orr said...

Duke Murdann: Um...sorry? But after the mega-post on dozens of bands I'd never come across, finding out there were all these Celtic-flavored bands out there

If it helps, you're not alone. I'm going to do my best to get a little music wiggle room in our budget now!

Emilly Orr said...

Edward: of the middle grouping, I'm a huge fan of Tull and Steeleye, I like Fairport and Silly Sisters, and Silly Wizard and Planxty are good bands, but don't draw me so much.

But Tull's sort of an oddity--there aren't a lot of people lukewarm on them. I adore them, but I have a friend who recorded a cassette for me once that was all Steeleye songs I hadn't yet heard (then) on one side, with the other side titled "Songs in Which Ian Anderson Doesn't Sing (Much)".

Anonymous said...

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stay true to what you do~

Peter Stindberg said...

Yes, I noticed that blindspot too. The Fiddler's Green webpage is btw www.fiddlers.de (bilingual) - tey are an amazing liveband, which I had the pleasure to see twice so far. Try Youtube and find "The night Pat Murphy died" performed by them.

I have two recommendations from the US though:

"Maidens IV" and their CD "Four aflame" are - surprise - four sisters doing some amazing celtic folkrock with guitar, two fiddles and bodhran. They oscillate between traditional and quite modern rhythmic interpretations.

Hard to find due to their name is "Homeland" (you get zillions of other hits in Google), but their CD is "We never got that far alone" (if I don't mistale them with EtH now). There is a fantastic version of the old classic Mrs. McGrath there, which I can't stop hearing.

Happy new year!

Tony said...

Try a band called BlueHorses out of Cardiff. They have a unique Goth/Metal/Celtic sound. What grabbed me was a cover they did of Black Legged Miner that really rocking. There is also the genre of Bagrock, featuring bands like The Mudmen, Tartanic, and Prydein.

Dyri said...

This is Dyri from Taisgeal Clachan. I appreciate the time and effort you put into this list. I am very pleased that Taisgeal Clachan is included.

The hiatus should end within a few months as me and Alarick will meet once more. We have only a few more tracks to write, and a few to remaster and then our first album will be ready for release.

Please feel free to drop by the myspace, have a listen, leave some comments.


Emilly Orr said...

Yay! I can't wait to hear it. Currently listening to "Lane Eunys Glionnan" in the background. Amazing. Nearly trilling guitars, and that lovely reverb to link it all. Wonderful.

And "An Sgeulaiche" after--it's like a spiral dance as it just starts out. Step and turn and step and turn and spin and turn...and still, the bassline and the reverb to keep it moving.