To me, the whole ethos and feel of this album is best summed up by the final verse of stand-out track ‘Aspirations, I Have A Few’. Repeated twice, it features the band’s lead vocalist, Macca, belting out the following desires:
“I wish that when I sang/ It sounded just like Springsteen/ That if I took the stand/ The folks would sit and listen/ I wish that I was in a gang/ Grinding a living on the corner/ Or a maverick on a cop show/ Busting heads and taking numbers…”
The verse goes on after this, but this section alone (and the song title itself) perfectly sums up what this album is all about: aspiration.
Now, it could well be my own unemployment speaking, but Tales From The Wasteland seems to me to be just as much Tales observed from The Wasteland – a chronicle of the world by a voice planted firmly at the bottom of it. The result is a collection of songs brimming with character and, in the grand tradition of punk, lashing out violently while always managing to maintain an all important sense of fun and irreverence.
But what really makes the album so successful is the sense of personality bestowed on it by the music – driving home the fact that ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ isn’t a book to be picked up and browsed: it’s the old drunk guy in the pub with one-leg and a hell of a life story which by-God you’re going to listen to whether you like it or not.
It’s unlikely to be anything you haven’t from a folk-punk band before – the band themselves fully admit to this in the press materials – and it’s unlikely to convert anyone who doesn’t already get off on this high-energy brand of excitable guitars, brutish bass and all the other trimmings; but fans of Flogging Molly and the like would do well to check these Reading boys out.
Probably one of my favourite albums of the year.
Released through Bomber Music on 31st October 2011.
Kenneth John Porteous