Crowns Stitches in the Flag (Ship Wreckords)
CD/DL/LP
Out Now

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 “college” years. The Mahones, Spirit of the West, Uisce Beatha and the like always drew a huge crowd. The “tree planters” (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. It’s 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’!). It’s blue-collar, Friday night, beer soaked, oil stained hands music. “China Clay” is a perfect example: A labouring man’s 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, “The snarled lyric ‘People live here, more than once a year’ on ‘China Clay’ is a dig at the second-home culture that troubles their home land”. They are from Launceston, Cornwall (though are now based in London) if that means anything to anyone.

I’m not sure what this second home culture is, but I suspect that it means people flock there (or away from there) to do hard jobs for long hours to bring home big money. This is kind of how it is in Canada, with people from all across the country, especially the Maritimes, who flock to Fort MacMurray on the infamous Canadian oil sands to make their fortune, but not their home.

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 haven’t added the harder edge that bands like Dropkick Murphys have. They’ve 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 “My London”. The band is rounded out by Jake Butler on bass, Jack Speckleton on mandolin (I love the mandolin, especially on the instrumental “Boscastle Breakdown”) and Nathan Haynes on drums.

 

My absolute favourite on this album (their first full length), which is chock full of good songs is “Full Swing”. Lots of fun, and I really enjoy the video even though I don’t normally enjoy watching people drink. Not my idea of a good time. But hey, I like this video. Don’t ask me to explain myself. I can’t.

So, if the boys in Crowns see this review, I have a message for them: Please come to Winnipeg (that’s 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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Enjoyed my read – and I’m sure Crowns will appreciate the kind words!

    Crowns home, Cornwall, is a beautiful county with an ancient celtic history and language (related to Welsh and Breton). It has a great mix of small fishing villages, wind-swept moorlands and renowned surf spots on the Atlantic coast… Which brings me to the second-home culture Crowns mention: it refers to wealthy folks from outside Cornwall buying a second home there, which they only occupy for a few weeks per year whilst on vacation… not a problem in itself, until ya realise it raises house prices beyond the means of local cornish people’s ability to buy them, and so large parts of the community can no longer afford to live where they were born, bred and have worked their whole lives. Many local industries have perished and the area has suffered a labour and brain drain, as the young leave to find a living elsewhere.

    It’s great that Crowns have chosen to sing of this (often politically taboo) subject. Only through recognition and education about the problem can we begin to address it.

    AND they’re a rad live band!

    Go Crowns!

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