Saturday, 28 May 2016

Album Review: Crowley’s Curse by Matilda’s Scoundrels (by Emma Prew)

Matilda’s Scoundrels are one of my current favourite folk punk bands – ‘folk punk’ being my absolute favourite (sub)genre of music. Having recently enjoyed their performance at Manchester Punk Festival, I was very keen to hear their new 7” that was announced shortly after the festival. Released by TNS Records, Smegma Records, AWOL Records, Charlie’s Big Ray Gun and Almighty Beard Records, Crowley’s Curse is a two track single featuring the title track and, another brand new track, Pissheads Anthem.

Crowley’s Curse opens with the classic folk instrument, the tin whistle – something that, I for one think, not enough punk songs do! The tin whistle is accompanied by some mandolin and soon some accordion as well, before the more traditional punk instruments kick in – guitar, bass, drums. I’m a big fan of The Pogues (although not so much Shane MacGowan himself) and Matilda’s Scoundrels’ sound is very reminiscent of their music, the tin whistle in particular. Except Matilda’s Scoundrels are probably better! They’re clearly a band that is proud of where they come from – the south-east seaside town of Hastings. The lyric “In the old town of Hasting!’ is chanted several times throughout Crowley’s Curse – and it’s done in such a way that makes me feel proud of Hastings… I’ve never even been. The song is about Aleister Crowley, a ceremonial magician and occultist who lived and died in Hastings in the 1940s. He had a theory that everyone who lives in Hastings stays in Hastings. He was also the creator of a philosophy and religion called Thelema, the symbol for which is used on the artwork for the 7”. Lyrically the song is very much a traditional folk song with a great sense of storytelling, but there’s certainly a punk edge to the music too. (Watch the awesome video for the song here.)

Like Crowley’s Curse, Pissheads Anthem also starts off with a whistle. But whereas the first song starts fairly slowly with the pace gradually building up, Pissheads Anthem has more of an instant sense that the kick is soon coming. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of bass guitar from the outset – a more typical punk instrument, after all. As anticipated, the tempo soon picks up and some ‘Hey!’s from several members, if not all members, of the band are shouted. When the full vocals start about a minute into the song, the singing/shouting in unison continues. It’s clear that, as the title of the track suggests, this is going to be a shout-along-merrily-in-the-pub type song. In fact, there’s only a couple of lines in the whole 3 and a half minute song so it would be easy to pick up the words. It’s a lively song and, even if you’re not getting drunk, you’ll find it difficult to refrain from singing and foot stomping along.

Matilda’s Scoundrels, like many folk punk bands, are a band that are at their best performing live and they now have two brilliant new songs to add to their setlist. I’m really looking forward to hearing the tracks live myself soon.

The digital album is released on 10th June and vinyl orders will be shipped around then as well – check out Bandcamp for more details.

You can also like Matilda’s Scoundrels on Facebook here.

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