Release Date: March 17, 2013
Run Time: 36:13
2. Sailing East
3. Work Away
4. Star Of The County Down
5. Guinness And Chips
6. Sunny Day In Southie
7. I’ll Tell Me Ma
8. The Good Ship Lagan
9. Same Shite Different Night
10. Fields Of Athenry
London’s The Lagan are a deceptively versatile Celtic rock/punk band. The first song on their debut album starts off not unlike a large handful of other Celtic rock records have. With the singing of a fiddle threading into rolling toms, supported by the steady rhythm of the guitars, all giving way to singer/guitarist Brendan O’Prey singing sea shanty-ish lyrics to a pirate melody. The first track, Staring the Devil in the Eye is a hell of a way to start off a record. It’s a great, catchy tune but, again, not unlike many other similarly themed tales of pirate life out on the pounding seas.
Sailin’ East continues with the nautical theme with an even catchier hook, the band welcoming the listener to hell in an ironically upbeat manner. Work Away will be the song that will stick in your head after the rest of the album’s hooks and rhythms have faded as it’s the catchiest, most melodic in the bunch. It’s a somewhat sad song with a hopeful longing and a plea for unity. It’s a song that wouldn’t be out of place at a wake actually, if the mourners were open minded enough not to see a rock song as disrespectful at such a place.
Star of the County Down is an old Irish ballad that’s been done many times by many different artists. The tune has always kept the same melody with it in all the versions I’ve heard, with The Pogues doing a particularly snarly version on their Peace and Love album. The Lagan’s version keeps true to the versions that have come before, without overtly copying any one of them. The song also kicks into a higher gear at the end, which is a nice touch.
The wonderfully titled Guinness ‘n’ Chips is where The Lagan really start to show their versatility and originality, as the tune retains the same Celtic flavor the previous four songs had, but adds ska rhythms, which makes for a refreshing mix, not unlike what the band Will Tun and the Wasters are doing with the genres. Sunny Day in Southie is a song of reflection and an appreciation of good friends and good drink living in a city you love with the band’s unofficial tagline ‘no sleep till St. Patrick’s Day.’ It’s a nice song and a nice primer leading into I’ll Tell Me Ma, which is one of the most covered songs in Celtic music. The Lagan’s version is a lively, energetic affair that would enhance any night at the pub blasting out of the speakers.
The Good Ship Lagan is actually Drunken Sailor with the lyrics modified to reflect the things that make the band tick. Lyrically, it’s another sea shanty, possibly a tribute to London’s popular pub/live music venue The Good Ship, but certainly a celebration, like much of the album is, to friends, drinks and good music. Same Shite Different Night might be the liveliest tune on the record, which is saying something as this record just does not slow down.
That is, until the first chords of The Fields of Athenry ring out on the album closer. The song picks up slightly as it goes but retains a mid-pace tempo, distinguishing it as The Lagan’s own interpretation and not another version of the Dropkick Murphys version.
I don’t know what the album title Where’s Your Messiah Now? Refers to; a commentary on the death of God in these modern times perhaps, or a reaction against the often closed minded intolerance of certain religions, or it could just be a nod to a Chief Wiggum quote from The Simpsons. Either way, it will soon be known to fans in both Celtic rock and punk circles as the excellent and accomplished debut album of The Lagan. A band which, mark my words, will go far in this profession/hobby they’ve chosen. And I hope they do, because they’re an extremely talented group of guy and this album rocks.