Tag Archives: Folk

Daily Disc
Shane Ó Fearghail – Born from Tradition (2020)

At first, we received this beautiful album in digital form, but after I told Shane in a chat how much I loved his work, I didn’t have to wait long before the hard copies of two albums of his albums – Born From Tradition (2020) and They Might See Dolphins (2016) – arrived at CeltCast HQ. And yes, both of them are wonderful!

Shane is an Irish singer-songwriter who now lives in Vienna. His latest album Born From Tradition gives you the feel of the summer sun on your skin…, warm and soothing. It features songs about love, roots and musings about life. Both new and traditional folk songs are on it, sung either in English or Irish. The songs are presented in a modern style of folk music, which is quite refreshing! The booklet, consisting of eight pages, contains the lyrics of the tracks which is something we always appreciate. The album was recorded at Craic Haus Studios 32 and the artwork was designed by Sabine Mann. My favourite songs on this album are: Trasna Na gCianta (Across the Ages) and Na Bi Buartha (Don’t be worried).

Musical greeting Ilona CeltCast
You can find Shane on:
His website: shaneofearghail.com
Facebook: shaneofearghailmusic
Spotify: Shane Ó Fearghail
Bandcamp: shaneofearghail
YouTube: Shane Ó Fearghail

Xuntas, introducing the music of Sangre de Muerdago

Comprado en uno de los conciertos más mágicos a los que he asistido.‘ (Bought at one of the most magical concerts I have ever attended.)
Those were the first words I heard about Sangre de Muerdago. These words came from Dani Iturriaga, singer and multi-instrumentalist of Vael, but also the founder of Hierbo Loba, a site in Spanish informing the public about folk music, just as we do with CeltCast.
Dani is just as much a music fan as he is a musician and that becomes clear when you visit his website. It also became clear when we were talking about Sangre de Muerdago. It turned out Dani has been a fan of this Galician band for quite some time. This is what he had to say about Sangre de Muerdago:
-‘I have to admit that it makes me a bit dizzy that you mention Vael so much as a reference in the Xuntas review, because I don’t think we deserve it. For us, Sangre de Muerdago is one of our main references, and we have only just started. The truth is that if there is a group that I would like to be like, it would be them. You know, all bands start out playing covers of their favorite artists. We started by covering Faun and Sangre de Muerdago.’

I can’t think of a better way to introduce Sangre de Muerdago to you all. Xuntas, and all the other (split) albums Sangre made over the years can be found on Bandcamp. So I hope this review will make you discover a wonderful new band, or that it will reacquaint you with an old friend.

– Cliff

-picture by Josanne van der Heijden

PS. Don’t forget, next week it is the first Friday of the month again, the day that Bandcamp waves away their share of the revenue to support the musicians in these odd Corona times.

Trolska Polska – EufoRI (2020) review



Being a CeltCast reviewer has made me discover a lot of beautiful records over the years and a selected few became even more than that, they became an addiction. They are CD’s I need to play on a regular basis, just as much as I need my daily cups of coffee! Albums like Matriarch by Shireen, Mythos by Waldkauz and Portal to Elfland by SeeD keep me energized and sane. They help me wander into my happy place, away from the madness of everyday life, the place where I can let everything go and just be me. I can tell you now that Eufori, the newest record of Trolska Polska, made it into that selected few. This album is pure genius. A troll-folk concept album that just works on every single level. From the artwork till the very last note. It’s funny, captivating and addictive. My personal album of the year 2020!
The fun starts right away with the opening song Tøbrud (spring thaw). The beginning is really gentle, tiny drops of sound are faded in, setting the mood. An enchanting flute melody appears, its sound takes you by the hand and leads you into a spring morning. This is going to be the first nice spring morning after a harsh, cold, Nordic winter. The low sun is casting friendly shadows over the frozen meadows. The gentle sound of dripping water is all around you. In front of you are two figures, dancing, waltzing and swirling. Easily evading every drop of melting snow that is falling down from the trees above. As if the old oaks are carefully pulling back their branches, making sure they do not disturb the graceful couple down on the grass…..

Oh, how easy it is to drift away in your own fantasy world when you listen to this album. It is all the small little details that Trolska Polska have hidden in their songs. They have done it so cleverly, so subtle. You can really hear the drops of water fall down when you listen to the music. You can hear the melting water rush down the brooks and creeks of the ancient woods. If you close your eyes you can hear the day start. You can feel the sun heralding the start of spring. The start of big things to come. It is all there, captured in music. In my eyes, Eufori is the folk version of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the wolf. A bald statement to make, I know, but trust me, it is one hundred percent true. Where Moss was a charming balfolk album and Untold Tails a lovely mix between balfolk and troll-folk music, this album is a huge leap forward. Trolska Polska not only wrote beautiful music for Eufori, but they also created a whole world around it. A whole story they play out in eleven delightful songs. Eufori is the story about one of the most important days in the troll calendar: The big spring ball!

When you dive into the booklet you’ll find that every song represents a chapter of this story, beautifully illustrated by Kent Overby Stück. As the story and music were created alongside each other they enhance one another in a beautiful way. The music becomes so much stronger when you read the tales, and the tales get much funnier when you listen to the songs. I would totally ruin the fun of listening to Eufori for the first time if I tell all about the storylines here, so instead I’m just going to tease you a bit with some hints, just to whet your appetite. I am only going to mention the mischievous troll kids, and how they manage to get the steam blowing out of the conductor’s ears… and the smoke coming from his tail while they’re at it. I’m only briefly going to point out the ‘breathtaking’ appearance of Slattenlangpat and her infamous booby-woogie. And I’m going to let you wonder why ‘the wandering giant’ leaves the party with a castle window pressed into his right eye.
I can assure you, if it ever was worthwhile to buy an actual CD instead of just streaming the music, then this album is it. You really are going to miss out, if you only have the music files without the story.



Tumult, the first single to be released from Eufori

This brings me to the main subject of every review, the music. What can I say? I LOVE this album! From the very first note till the very last chord. This is instrumental folk music at its very, very best. The melodies are catchy and fun, the solo’s mesmerizing and the whole concept is so believable. Where on earlier albums I personally missed a bit of true troll feeling sometimes, Eufori just oozes troll-folk. Every note has something otherworldly, something mischievous about it. Where the melodies on Moss were lead by the higher notes of the flute and violin, Eufori has much more room for the lower string instruments: the cello, the double bass, the hurdy-gurdy, and the bagpipe. And that lower sound is so important to get the feeling of true trolls, gnomes, and other otherworldly creatures across. I can’t help but believe that I have wandered deep into the dark Scandinavian forest, carefully peeking in, watching the trolls have their fun, while I’m trying not to get caught. (You wouldn’t want to get a wedgie from old Slattenlangpat now, would you?)

Although the whole album is a highlight, I do have some personal favourites, and the song Slattenlangpat is one of them. It’s a schottisch with a really cool, jazzy, double-bass riff as the backbone of the song. That riff alone is enough to get a huge smile on my face, but the whole build-up is great too. The catchy string melody the song has, the funny vocals that get a whole new meaning when you read the story behind it, the bagpipe solo, the pop-like string parts making this an instant hit… Oh, I could go on and on about this song alone.
Vigtigpråsen is the second song I want to pick up on. Again a schottish, again with this really laid back feel to it, again built up so well. The solo’s, the catchy troll-whistle, the cool viola solo, it’s so different to the balfolk music I normally hear, so unique, and yet so cool.

Not all the songs are laidback though. Halvlang Hopsa proves that straight away. It is fast, lightning-fast, and sooo much fun. Especially if you read the story behind it. Definitely one of my favourites. Keen eyes will have spotted the first Scandinavian balfolk references in between the lines. And they would be right, although Eufori is clearly a concept album, the band did not forget about their balfolk roots. Better yet Scandinavian balfolk is stil a big part of their sound. Polkas, waltzes, a hopsa, a halling, a gangar, even a menuet, all the cool Scandinavian dances are all there. Sometimes furiously fast like in Halvlang Hopsa, sometimes jazzy and cool like in Slattenlangpat, and sometimes just really beautiful as in Måneskinsmenuet. Eufori is as much a dance album as it is a pleasure to listen to. For those not too familiar with the Scandinavian dances, no need to worry. Our in house balfolk team have spotted a few an dros, some scottish, and two gavotte de l’avens besides the familiar waltzes polkas and polskas i already mentioned. So plenty to dance to. Eufori truly ticks every box possible.



Eufori, the title track, and second single to be taken off the new album

There are two more songs I want to mention before I wrap this review up. These are my two absolute favourite songs on Eufori. Both with a wonderful build-up, lovely melodies, and stunning solos. First of which is Hylkerne. I love everything about that song. The deep mouth harp, almost like a didgeridoo, laying down an awesome beat together with the double bass. (Or should I call it a power chord, as the song has the feel of an acoustic hardrock power-ballad that wouldn’t look out of place on a Dio album.) That beat is sooo impressive. Do you know the intro of Ayreon’s song Loser? Well, this has the same impact. Those ‘power riffs’ in the intro of Hylkerne are amazing! Acoustic, but exploding in your ears anyway. Combine that with the awesome power of the percussion and you get a sound, as if a whole platoon of mammoths is marching in on their way to a place deep, deep in the Northern woods. A place where you and I don’t want to be seen. This song is something else. I don’t know if I should dance or bang my hair around, so I end up doing both! I cannot wait to see and especially FEEL this being played live. EPIC! Truly epic!!

Den Vandrende Kæmpe is the last song on Eufori, and the last song I’m going to mention. It is a song of amazing beauty. It is another power ballad. It is also the absolute best song on this truly stunning CD, I’m just overwhelmed by it all. Drawn into every single note! Into every single bar! It just goes on and on. Highlight after highlight! This is the moment all my editors dread, because I’m going to become lyrical, (which means I write waaaaay to much, and they have to edit that 😉 ). One by one everybody gets their moment to shine on this brilliant final song: First the percussion, strong and powerful! Followed by the cello, first improvised, then leading us in one last catchy melody. We have the double bass joining in, strong and deep, ‘singing’ its last mesmerizing duet with the cello, their duet echoing through the northern woods, flowing over the fast horizon. Beautiful! And then, THEN comes the true icing on the cake! The flute solos! As if Iain Mars of the Sidh joins in for one last moment of pure bliss. I have tears welling in my eyes as I am listening to this grande finale. This song moves me so deep in my core, so deep in my soul. This song is e-v-e-r-y-thing I adore about music! Truly Epic!

So there you have it, Eurori put in words. Quite a lot of words actually. This review became quite a story although I only scratched the surface of it all. There is so much more to tell, both about Trolska Polska, and about Eufori. So I inserted one more video below, where Martin Seeberg himself tells the story of the band and the album. And with that I want to end, hoping this will not be the final chapter in the Trolska Polska tale. No, I’m hoping for many more chapters to come. And I’m hoping the very first of those chapters will be a performance on Winter Castlefest, in the great hall, with the band playing the whole album in one go, and Mia Guldhammer (Virelai) narrating it, reading out all the stories of the booklet in between the songs, making it all come to life. Of course, there should be enough room for the balfolk dancers on either side of the podium, so they can become part of the performance too. Now THAT would be a magical moment to experience. A worthy way to celebrate this magical album. Let’s hope that dream comes true one day.

Cliff



Editor:
– Anna Schürmann
Balfolk editors:
– Berit van der Jagt
– Erik Leguijt
Cover art:
Kent Overby Stück
Pictures:
Emma Engstrom (2)
Cliff de Booy (1, 3)

The Daily Disc
The Carrots – Driftwood (2020)

A couple of years ago, we met the band Half a Mile on the Dutch festival Keltfest. That was the only time I got to see them perform because the band decided to stop their activities…, but…, on the 5th of December CeltCast HQ received a present in the physical mailbox! The timing was perfect because in Holland this is ‘Sinterklaas dag’ (Saint Nicholas day). On that day children give a carrot to the horse of ‘Sinterklaas’ and hope the old man will, in return, give them some nice presents! Well, we received The Carrots that day and that was a fantastic surprise!
This album contains five beautiful acoustic folk-rock songs and comes with a booklet with the lyrics. Their music is a mix of folk-, world music, and Americana. The theme of the album is very fitting in these turbulent times: going with the flow, struggling with the period we’re in and accepting changes.
My favourite songs on this album are Everything Flows and Train of Thought. I can listen to that one over and over again…, and well…, actually the whole album is sending the right vibes. So, go to their page and welcome this new band in our scene!


Musical greetings, Ilona CeltCast

Grumpy O Sheep – East of Talisker (2020) review



The first time I heard the band name ‘Grumpy O Sheep’ I immediately had pictures of some bearded, old Irish blokes in my head. I imagined a band which sound would come close to the Dubliners, rough and tough Irish folk music with a pint in the hand and a tear in the eye. When I heard the album for the first time I was convinced iI heard a Spanish band playing! I even wrote it down: ‘Cool that a Spanish band plays Irish music in this way. Cool that they call themselves Grumpy O Sheep, I love that sense of humor.’ But…, I was wrong again! First of all Grumpy O Sheep aren’t Spanish, they are French, and secondly, they are not a band, they are a duo.
Grumpy O Sheep 2 – CeltCast reviewer 0!
The biography of Grumpy O Sheep is short but sweet. They are Lu (violin) and Boss (guitar, flute) from the departement of Belfort ( a province in France near the Swiss/German border), who formed an Irish-Spanish folk duo in 2017. After doing a concert tour through France they started recording their first album East of Talisker, which came out in the spring of 2020. That is about it. Not that I mind. A review should be about the music anyway and trust me, there is a LOT to say about Grumpy O Sheep’s music. So let’s jump right in.

And ‘Jumping right in’ are the right words here. Opening track Say’s Gi features all the things that make Grumpy O Sheep’s sound so special. A perfect blend of Irish style violin taking the lead melody and a fiery Spanish style rhythm guitar, including the oh so familiar hand-slapping of the guitar body, taking care of the rhythm and beat. This is instant:’get in a good mood and start dancing‘ music. Say’s Gi is a compilation of three songs: Sight of Land, Humour of Castelfin and Temple House and they all marry so well together. The slight bit of Hall of the Mountain King woven in there as well is just the icing on the cake.

Say’s Gi is just a warm-up. There are way more good vibes to come! The flute and violin intro of Strawberries and Raddish instantly pushes the happy feel barometer up at least ten notches. Not to mention the way the rhythm guitar eventually crashes in for an instant party. So cool. This music just oozes out the cheer of Irish folk and the energy of Spanish acoustic music. And don’t forget the quirkiness of the French. That sudden wah-wah pedal on the Spanish guitar. I love that bit. I truly love it! Strawberries and Raddish is actually a compilation of the tunes Monaghan Jig and Drowsy maggie melted together. In their pure Irish form those tunes are already bursting with energy, add the Spanish rhythm to it and they become fountains of joie de vivre. That typical French joy of life.

With the third song Hunaman, the positive vibes go up one more time. Hunaman is a cover of the famous Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, and trust me, you have to be brave to take on such a song, and really skilled to pull it off. Well, Lu and Boss are both. As with most of Grumpy O Sheep songs, Lu takes the lead melody, – in the original song played by Rodrigo-, giving it a lovely, different, but equally catchy feel. And Boss is more than capable to take on Gabriela’s rhythm part. I love this version of the song; the use of the violin makes it just that wee bit more melodic; it sings just that wee bit more. Thumbs up guys.



East of Talisker is not only filled with fast-paced, energetic dance tunes though. Inisheer is the first calmer, balladesque song to balance it all out. The gentle fingerpicking guitar melody temporarily calms down the mood. Time for our first glass of wine in enjoyment of this wonderful music. The violin gives this song a real French feel. You can feel there is a real story hidden in these violin notes, memories of faraway places, of almost forgotten dreams. And Lu is bringing them all back again. A lovely song, reminiscent of the Dutch duo Wouter en de Draak.

With Sheeps Are Sailing we go deep into the Irish musical heritage. So cool to hear how you can make a violin sound French in one song, and then so clearly Irish in the next. It is as if it is speaking in a different dialect all of a sudden. The middle part of this song, with all its fun effects, makes me realize how well this CD is recorded. It is Fresh and modern, just like the music itself. Although you hear ‘only’ a violin and guitar, it is recorded in a way, which makes the music fill up the whole room. The sound engineer makes maximum use of the stereo spectrum and the microphones are placed so well that you can hear every single sound. Up to Boss’s fingers whizzing over the neck of his guitar, swiftly going from one note to the next. In my eyes the standard to reach when it comes to recording folk music is that of Fieke van der Hurk and the Dearworld studio. Well, the team recording East of Talisker nailed it. The album sounds equally good!



Gravel Walk, the song above, is proof of that. A tune so catchy it stays in your head for days, if you’re not careful, and the sound. That sound! Just listen to that guitar filling up your earphones. Making a lovely bed for that catchy-as-hell violin melody. And then that finger tipping against the violin body to keep up the beat!!! I just love this!! I just love the whole CD!!! I just love the energy oozing out of it even before I open the CD case!!!

If you want to bring home the fun of Irish music, the energy of Spanish guitar and the ‘Joie the Vivre’ of the French, done with the vibrancy, only two young really talented musicians can bring, free of spirit and not bothered by rules, then East of Talisker is the album to get. Grumpy O sheep is a duo of artists, of entertainers, theatre people, and street musicians bundled in one package, and I loved every note of it. Vive Grumpy O’ Sheep!

Cliff

editor: Anna
picture: Grumpy O Sheep



PS. I couldn’t help it. I had to add just one more video, because it is so quirky, because it is so well played, and because it says so much about the attitude this duo has to their music and life in general. Enjoy!







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