Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Album Review: Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia by Mischief Brew

Back in February long running folk punk band Mischief Brew released a new album named Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia. Strictly speaking Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia isn't a completely new release, it combines Mischief Brew’s two earliest releases - Tracks one to six are from the Philadelphia side of a split with Robert Blake and tracks five to eleven are from the EP Bakenal. All the songs have been remastered from their original recordings.

Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia begins with the song Every Town Will Celebrate. This song talks about the commercialisation of towns across America that are all becoming cookie cutter places with all the main streets becoming the same and having the same chain shops and restaurants on them. The song moves along at a nice tempo and is a rousing sing-a-long track. Old Tyme Mem'ry starts off with a much slower tempo and a heavier tone. The mood of the song does pick up at the chorus though with Mischief Brew leader Erik Peterson singing about reminiscing about the times when people where trained in a craft and life wasn't all about possessions. I really like the feel of the song, it does make you imagine being in the bar with Peterson whilst he tells the stories. Up next is a song named Boycott Me! For an acoustic song this starts very quickly and hooks you in immediately. It's another big, rousing song that will get a crowd singing loudly together. That's what this type of music is all about; bringing a community together and fighting for a common goal.

When I first saw that the fourth song Dirty Pennies was over six minutes long I immediately thought "oh this could go on a bit" but thankfully it doesn't. It's actually a beautiful song telling the story of a homeless woman who was given kindness by a young boy who grows up and forgets who she is. It makes me think about how when you are young you don't judge anyone but when you are growing up you are often taught to be afraid of things that are different. Liberty Unmasked begins with some great traditional marching drums that give you an impression something big is on the horizon. It's an uplifting folk anthem. I like the rawness of the track, it gives the song a more rooted, everyman feel. The sixth song is named Fare Well, Good Fellows. Musically the song is fairly simple with Peterson using his vocals to really carry the melody of the song. It feels like a good camp fire sing-a-long with its simple catchy chorus of "Fare Well, Good Fellows, Your Ways Are Not For Me, Rest Upon Your Laurels, Glad You Found Your Peace, But Fare Well, Good Fellows, Your Ways Are Not For Me". Devil Of A Time has an Eastern European twist to it. It puts another string on the Mischief Brew bow and keeps Bacchanal 'N' Philadelphia from becoming stale.

Track number eight - Rambler's Ghost - is an energetic and up-tempo song. I enjoyed the song but I couldn't help but feel like I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if there had been a full band version to it. It sounds like it's trying to have a big sound but that incredibly difficult with just an acoustic guitar. The following song The Drunk Of Three Nights suffers from a similar problem. It builds up to a big sound but doesn't stay big long enough to really keep my attention for long enough. The penultimate song - Roll Me Through The Gates Of Hell sees Mischief Brew revert back to a more traditional folk punk style with just acoustic guitar and vocals. Starting out with a simple beat and a catchy opening, it’s a song that will get a crowd singing along instantly. I really love the irony that one of the catchiest lines from the album is "I Am A Leader But You Will Not Follow Me". This song is exactly how I like my folk punk. Baccenhal 'N' Philadelphia is completed by a softer track named Anti-Lullaby. It's a good change of pace from Roll Me Through The Gates Of Hell and is a fantastic way to finish the album. Despite its slower pace it's still a track to get people singing along and getting involved. It has an anthemic feel to it, it will get your arms round the person next to you and have singing like your life depends on it. It's punk rock.

This is a fun walk down memory lane for old time Mischief Brew fans as well as an interesting look at the beginnings of one of the most respected bands in the folk punk world. Definitely worth checking out.

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