Sunday, 22 November 2015

Album Review: Back To The Drawing Room by Smokey Bastard

Back To The Drawing Room is the brand new album from Reading's folk punks Smokey Bastard. Smokey Bastard are a band that have been around for a few years now, previously releasing 2011's excellent Tales From The Wasteland. That album is fantastic so I was super excited for a new release. 

The album begins with a song named Archipelago. From the outset Archipelago feels heavier than anything on Tales From The Wasteland. The Celtic influence is apparent immediately with some fast banjo playing kicking things off before some excellent vocal exchanges get the party properly started. The vocals sound like they come from everywhere, something I adore. The second song, Rats, starts with a long, folky intro before the vocals come in. The verse is slow-paced and bouncy then the song morphs into a punk rock jam for the chorus. The shifts in key keep the song interesting and add a sense of wondering about what's next. Baba Yaga is an instantly memorable song. It's a fast, fun song about a creature named Baba Yaga, who comes from Slavic folklore. The song is about being aware of the Baba Yaga and running from it if you see it. As songs go it's kind of random but also very creative and a fantastic time. It's always good to see bands draw influences from all sorts of different things. 

Faster Than Light is more of a full-speed, Celtic punk song. The tempo is high throughout the majority of the song with all manner of instruments involved, including some fantastic accordion playing. There is a great storytelling feel to the song that really makes you believe you're living out what's happening in the song. The bass and drums are given a chance to shine during the fifth song Screens. They rumble and pound away during the verses in the song before the electric guitar adds a heavier layer for the chorus. Screens has a series of highs and lows throughout that I've come to expect from a Smokey Bastard song, it's becoming a bit of a trademark for them. South Australia offers a break from all of the hard rocking action. It's a traditional sea shanty that shows off the bands great skill at harmonising. Rotter sees a return to the folk punk fun with the banjo and accordion leading the way. This song feels a lot more restrained than the previous tracks on the album, but gives a sense of building up to something bigger. 

The something bigger comes with the next song Alcobatical, a song that reminds me of my favourite Derbyshire ska punks Lightyear. If Lightyear played folk punk this is exactly what they would sound like. This song also has far more of a conventional poppy sound which makes it far more accessible even if you're not a huge fan of this style of punk rock music. The penultimate song on Back To The Drawing Room is titled Jester. This song adds a horn section to the party to give the band yet another dimension. It really ups the tempo and makes me want to dance. I'm not sure whether to skank or do an Irish jig though. I imagine live this causes all kinds of glorious confusion and carnage. Can Of Worms is the final song on the album -I enjoyed the jumping from traditional folk instruments to the more traditional punk rock instruments at the beginning of the track before combining to create some strange kind of folk 80s metal sound. 

Back To The Drawing Room is a very entertaining album from start to finish. It has a varied sound that you don't often hear with this genre of punk rock. If you're looking for something different to the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly then Smokey Bastard are the band for you. Representing a burgeoning scene involving bands such as Roughneck Riot, Ferocious Dog and The Lagan, with Back To The Drawing Board Smokey Bastard prove they are among the very best in their genre.

Buy Back To The Drawing Room here:

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