Bootscraper ‘Bootscraper’ – album review

Bootscraper ”ËœBootscraper’ (TNS Records)
Available now

Well this took me by surprise; the album arrived as part of a package from TNS Records the Manchester based not for profit label that generally releases very angry punk, ska/punk, and all genres in between; as such I was expecting the usual rush of frantic stop start noise, however what I got initially made me think I had ended up with one of those weird factory mis-prerssings such was the contrast from what I was anticipating…’Bootscraper’ is the second album from the Leeds based 7-piece who describe their music as ”ËœCountry & Eastern’ and it’s an absolute delight!!

Having formed during summer of 2008 Bootscraper have rapidly, and rightly gained themselves a fearsome reputation for both their musical ability and their now legendary live shows; to this they add defiant independence, so finding themselves on Manchester’s TNS Records was the perfect marriage ”“ though TNS may well have to rethink their not for profit ethos as this album is in danger of shifting skip full’s..

The Bootscraper sound draws upon a huge array of musical influences; the end result – certainly one of the most inventive albums I have had the pleasure of hearing; We get a truly eclectic mind warping rag bag mix of punk, traditional folk which even incorporates the odd Cornish sea shanty, the foreign influences are further referenced with flourishes of American bluegrass, the blues and Balkan gypsy ala Gogol Bordello.

This sounds like a drunken open-mic night in a Turkish bar when fortune has it that the audience contains punks, folk lovers, and local musicians who all gather around a full bottle of raki before commencing on a night long jam session with each contributor being given ample space to express themselves, Bootscraper then complete the package with scathing social commentary delivered in a both gravel voiced and a harmonious style

The first two tracks, ”ËœOrphan Sailor Song’ and ”ËœResurrection Men’ ably demonstrate this contrast before the remainder of the album follows in a similar diverse and wide ranging fashion. Each track whilst sounding like a bar room knees up is meticulously executed, the level of musical dexterity is breath taking ”“ add to this a considered and spacious production and this is easily a contender for album of the year.

”ËœHalf As Sweet’ slows the pace and is tinged with a melancholic tone, before ”ËœWho Are You?’ forces you from the bar to stamp those feet and lift your glass; ”ËœThe Suffering’ initial provides a blues infused welcome break, before breaking into a full on fiesta, a maelstrom of mandolin and banjo as you no doubt sink another glassful.

To reference other bands is to perhaps do Bootscraper a disservice, though there are elements of The Pogues right through to the current aggro folk/punk sound of Roughneck Riot, all of which come together in the climactic ”ËœSpit Shine Joe’ ”“ an eleven minute mini symphony of raucous mayhem that brings together every element of Bootscraper into four separately titled sections

If you ever find yourself looking for something different, something to challenge your preconceived ideas then please grab this album; this really is gypsy punk/aggro-folk music at its very best!


Bootscraper – Track Listing
 1. Orphan Sailor Sings
2. Resurrection Men
3. Half As Sweet
4. Who Are You?
5. The Suffering
6. Thieves Anthem
7. Catch Me If You Can
8. The Family
9. Spit Shine Joe
10. Devils

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Phil Newall is from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.



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