The Lagan: Where’s Your Messiah Now? (Banquet Records)
March 17th 2013
Music and Guiness, Guinness and music. What’s not to like? Andy Carrington listens to the new album from the Lagans.
The Lagan (pronounced “Lag-an”, like “wagon”, so I’m told) is a Celtic-punk band hailing from Kingston-Upon-Thames that combines its members’ love for drinking with performances of traditional Irish folk music. It may be easy to class the band as a Dropkick Murphys type collective with that statement alone, but The Lagan’s knack for reinventing tradition in its own anthemic and insouciant style elucidates how very capable and likeable the lads are when putting their own spin on things.
For a group of guys that just started out doing gigs for the fun of it in their local boozers amongst friends, their ten-track debut album Where’s Your Messiah Now? may come as surprise (something which even the lads admit to, themselves, with, “its blown our pickled, little minds how far we’ve come.”) The result is six original songs, three traditional and one a bit of both, all of which are produced with The Lagan’s harmonic, Guinness-fuelled edge, making the whole listening experience very enjoyable indeed.
Taking on board well-known Irish riffs, as well as influences that seem to range from The Pogues to Stiff Little Fingers, The Lagan’s sound is accomplished and will appeal to anyone looking for upbeat, feel-good punk anthems that are still rooted firmly within the bars of the band’s upbringing. The music’s not as angry or gruff as a lot of Celtic punk I’ve heard, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest; in fact, it’s so bloody good I got the urge to sing along and grab myself a can of Guinness from the the fridge after just a few minutes of listening. Accessible, this most certainly is, with Brendan, Gareth, Andy, Matt, Martin and Mr. Stanley playing to their strengths, most familiarly on ‘I’ll Tell My Ma’ and ‘The Good Ship Lagan’ (which accompanies the music from the sea shanty ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’).
‘Same Shite Different Night’ talks about the mindless dickheads we’ve all encountered after too much beer on the town; while ‘Guinness ‘n’ Chips’ incorporates notable ska influence and a great, reoccurring line, “No sleep till St. Patrick’s Day.” Other tracks include ‘Sunny Day In Southie’, which tells of the band’s drunken trip to the USA back in 2009 (one of the most significant moments in the band’s history () while ‘Work Away’ is the most heartfelt track on the album.
The title of the album puzzled me for a while, especially considering that there is very little mention of religion on the record aside from the obvious ‘Staring The Devil In The Eye’ (which is superb, by the way). I think, perhaps, the title is more of an atheistic response to the unappealing nature of fundamental religious groups to young people. For The Lagan, it’s all about singing, playing instruments and drinking to get by in life and overcome their troubles. That’s not naivety on their part by any means: The band views music as the liberator of the people, and they have absolutely no shame in showing us they love what they do.