The first thing which may spring to mind when listening to the tracks on Smokey Bastard’s ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ anthology is their similarity to The Pogues in fusing the disparate worlds of punk and Celtic folk.
On further exploration, it’s wholly apparently they aren’t riding on the coat-tails of the afore-mentioned band – they are merely upholding the spirit of Shane MacGowan et al in their own style. Lead singer Macca’s voice is a perfect fit to the fast-paced bed of instrumentation which backs him – the voice of a guy with many a tall tale to tell. Many songs on the album are indeed story-based; the greatest example can be found on ‘Boatepitaph (Pt II)’, which eloquently sums up the song’s premise in one verse.
‘Aspirations, I Have Some’ is a five-minute reflection on past achievements and – mainly – failed conquests, with name checks to the likes of Custer (and McNulty of ‘The Wire’?); and ‘Dear Mol’ is a bittersweet parting note to a former lover – until, mid-song, she bites back with a delicious retort.
The tracks on ‘Tales From The Wasteland’ blend together with effortless dynamism, and see more genres contributed to the band’s melting pot. Ska undertones are evident in ‘Mongrel’, ‘My Son John’ is a tender acapella piece in a traditional Irish vein which the afore-mentioned ‘Dear Mol’ reprises, while their cover version of ABBA’s ‘Mamma Mia’ is a rousing conclusion to the thirteen-track LP.
In all, the ‘Tales Of The Wasteland’ told by Smokey Bastard showcases a band with a powerful capability to weld together a noise that moves the feet and the heart. This writer can only imagine how it translates on stage… maybe one day, lads?
For more information, please visit the Smokey Bastard website.