Okay, so I must say that this sat with me for a while. Traditional folk infused with punk is a genre that isn’t for everyone, but one that I have always been drawn to. From the Pogues to early Dropkick Murphys and even some Flogging Molly I have always been captured by the sing along tone of this subgenre.
Skinny Lister is a catchy traditional folky band with a punk attitude and Forge and Flagon is their debut album. Most of the songs on Forge and Flagon fall into the high energy shanty/barroom or the touching ballad categories.
The album kicks off with the high energy tracks. If the Gaff Don’t Let Us Down starts off the album with a tradition song that will get your feet moving. The second track is a version of John Kanaka, a traditional sea shanty, is an a cappella gem. You want to join in immediately and it will only get better with some beer and some whiskey. Wild As The Wind Blows has charming banter in the beginning, an accordion, and is a great bar room ballad. Trawlerman has one of the most fun choruses on the album and a breakdown made for foot tapping and dancing.
Rollin’ Over is hands down my favorite song on this album. It has everything you can ever want a beat that you can dance to, a chorus you can sing along to, and music that lifts your spirits. This track is full of energy and light (and has a killer a capella section). Sometimes, okay, all of the time, I wish that the bars I go to would break out in to song like this.
The second half of the album contains most of the ballads. Peregrine Fly which is beautiful and morose. Kite Song is a surprisingly delicate track, even when it becomes robust about three quarters of the way in. It is a super interesting balance. Plough & Orion is delicate and sweet. And Colours, which begins soft and slow but near the end there is this great mounting intensity that totally changes the mood of the track.
Not all of the songs fall in to these two categories, there are even two polka’s on this album, and coming from Pennsylvania I can’t help but love a polka.
I had a great time listening to this record and enjoyed how it took me to two totally different places emotionally. It is said that they auditioned for Kevin Lyman in a parking lot and immediately got a spot on 2012’s Warped Tour (and a record on SideOneDummy), from hearing how much energy is in their recording, I can only imagine that they are purely infectious live.