Cornish ‘Fishpunk’ band Crowns have a new album out today, Stitches in the Flag. Our man Chris Hearn was sent a copy to review for us & immediately fell in love with it. Here’s the why.
For whatever reason, my hometown of Thunder Bay was big on this kind of music when I was in my âcollegeâ years. The Mahones, Spirit of the West, Uisce Beatha and the like always drew a huge crowd. The âtree plantersâ (kids who go into the middle of who knows where in the summer and plant trees to make money) and Lakehead University Forestry students just ate this kind of stuff up! I did as well. Always fun to jump around to and sing along with! So yeah, this brings back memories but this genre of music is stuff I still love to listen to – and in particularly love to listen to these guys.
This is just fun music, man. What else can I say. Itâs steeped in tradition, both old and new. This is the kind of music that I associate with the UK when I think of folk music (although apparently this is Cornish music, and it’s also been dubbed … ‘fish-punk’!). Itâs blue-collar, Friday night, beer soaked, oil stained hands music. âChina Clayâ is a perfect example: A labouring manâs song about digging…digging china clay to be exact. There is a lot of digging in this song, let me tell you. Their press release says, âThe snarled lyric âPeople live here, more than once a yearâ on âChina Clayâ is a dig at the second-home culture that troubles their home landâ. They are from Launceston, Cornwall (though are now based in London) if that means anything to anyone.
This is the kind of music that came over the ocean with immigrants and has become part of North American history as well, the seeds of early American country, western and bluegrass music. And these boys do it up well. They havenât added the harder edge that bands like Dropkick Murphys have. Theyâve remained fairly acoustic and earthy for the most part. At times, lead singer Bill Jefferson appears to be trying too hard to sound like Shane MacGowan, especially on the ballad âMy Londonâ. The band is rounded out by Jake Butler on bass, Jack Speckleton on mandolin (I love the mandolin, especially on the instrumental âBoscastle Breakdownâ) and Nathan Haynes on drums.
My absolute favourite on this album (their first full length), which is chock full of good songs is âFull Swingâ. Lots of fun, and I really enjoy the video even though I donât normally enjoy watching people drink. Not my idea of a good time. But hey, I like this video. Donât ask me to explain myself. I canât.
So, if the boys in Crowns see this review, I have a message for them: Please come to Winnipeg (thatâs where I live now)! Do a Canadian tour! Just come visit Canada, alright. I want to see you guys live. There are all kinds of folk festivals you can play at. Make a summer vacation out of it! Just come. Do it for me. Please! I believe you guys will be well received!
Check out Crowns at their website where you will soon be able to pre-order this album. You can also follow them on Facebook and twitter. They also have a few videos up on YouTube and some music over on Soundcloud. Now, everybody go listen and jump around.
All words and images by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.