Wednesday, August 25, 2010

5 Essential Folk Punk Releases

Last week, I wrote about some of my favorite county-punk bands. So for today, I thought I'd write about a closely-related genre, folk punk. Folk and punk are not as far apart as some people like to think. Both are based on simple musical ideas that anyone can play, so it's not much of a stretch to combine the two ideas. Rather than write about some bands from the genre like I did with country-punk, I decided to list what I consider to be 5 essential folk punk releases.

In no particular order:

The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God
The original Irish folk punk group, The Pogues are one of the most well-known examples of the genre. This album was chosen for the list because it has my two favorite Pogues songs (the title track and "A Fairytale Of New York"), and also because of my two favorite Pogues albums (the other being Pogue Mahone) it is the only one to feature their original singer, Shane Macgowan (thought co-vocalist Spider Stacy did a good job filling in after Macgowan's departure).

The Zydepunks - ...And The Streets Will Flow With Whiskey
I have no idea how I heard about this band, but their blend of punk ideals and New Orleans zydeco is truly unique. The band sings mainly in French, so I think I would appreciate the album even more if I weren't so limited in language. One of my favorite tracks on the album ("Bwamba's Ramble"), however, is in English, at least partially (the lyrics trade lines between English and French). I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something they haven't heard before.

Spoonboy - I Love You, This Is A Robbery
David Combs, better known by his stage name Spoonboy, is/was the front man of a pop-punk band called The Max Levine Ensemble (I can't quite determine the active status of the band).  In 2005 he released I Love You, This Is A Robbery, a folk punk album consisting mainly of himself singing and playing acoustic guitar. Much like TMLE, the songs are short, mainly fast and recorded in a very lo-fi, cheap manner. Spoonboy has been a big part of the Plan-It-X Records scene, so it really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone familiar to the genre that he made this list.

Andrew Jackson Jihad/Ghost Mice - Split
I was tempted to put Can't Maintain by AJJ on this list, but I decided that this split release was more descriptive of the folk punk idea, as well as a way to get both bands on the list without having to bump another release. Highlights of the release (in my opinion) are "We Shall All Die Alone Someday" by AJJ and "Oh Me, Oh Me" by GM.

Against Me! - The Acoustic EP
Recorded before their legendary fall from grace in the underground punk scene, The Acoustic EP is mainly made up of songs that would later be re-recorded by the band. Songs like "Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong" and "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious" help cement the band in folk punk history before they started adding electric guitars, signing to bigger labels and appealing more to arena rock fans than Pabst-drinking bearded punks. The album is one of the finest punk EPs ever recorded (in my opinion), so I would highly recommend it if you like recent AM! and want to hear earlier work or if you just want to know what folk punk is.


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