The Ramshackle Army : Life Lessons & Drunken Sessions
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The Ramshackle Army : Life Lessons & Drunken Sessions

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More impressively than simply acknowledging that people like to party – and that traditional Celtic folk remains one of most primal of boozily-fun genres of music – is that The Ramshackle Army have only existed for twelve months. Life Lessons & Drunken Sessions feels like the work of a group of grubby ne’er-do-wells who’ve spent years in each other’s company, slowly but surely crafting a cohesive musical approach, but The Ramshackle Army – unlike many bands in their embryonic stages – have a clear grasp on who they are, and what they want their band to stand for.

From the loping shanty of No Rest For The Wicked, or the Celtic-folk-punk of Rue The Day, they’re not afraid to acknowledge who they are: a band steeped in the brash and ballsy attitude of classic punk (see Uprising Young Citizen), the melodic graft of intelligent modern punk (check Bays End Guns), but with a clear appreciation for the finest of Celtic folk tradition (as on the instrumental title-track).

Fire Is Burning is a barnstorming drinking song of the highest degree – a mandolin-and-fiddle led call to link arms, dance a jig and spill beer on yourself. In fact, that doubles almost as a literal reading of the song’s entire lyrical content too. But the EP’s ultimate track, Time Immemorial, is an all-time spine-tingler. It fuses the melodicism of the band’s violin and mandolin/banjo combination with charging punk guitar and bullish vocals, leaving you awash with nostalgia for a warm, dark Irish pub, a pint and your best lady on your arm, lamenting the times when life isn’t this perfect. Or, how Alec Baldwin always feels.

Crucially for the band, though, their mix of styles never seems forced. That they blend punk and traditional elements of folk – mandolin, violin and banjo – successfully by never relying heavily on any singular aspect of it means that The Ramshackle Army come across as a true collective, and their is music all the more impressive for it. In the finest tradition of Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly or local bands like The Currency and The Go Set, forging that consistent identity is hard, but not impossible; what they’ve done is risen to the challenge with aplomb.

While the EP certainly depicts a band figuring out what works for them songwriting-wise – at least in forging a solid musical identity – with the evidence here presented with such conviction, they’re definitely on a path to greater exploits. As a debut release, Life Lessons & Drunken Sessions stands impressively against the best efforts of more established bands.

Best Track: Time Immemorial

If You Like These, You’ll like This: Rum, Sodomy & The Lash THE POGUES, Sing Loud Sing Proud DROPKICK MURPHYS,The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death THE TOSSERS, Within A Mile From Home FLOGGING MOLLY

In A Word: Celtic