fRoots Nov/Dec 2009
What's there not to like about this great little quintet? Scurrying out of Falmouth in Cornwall, their bustling, belting, lopsided accordeon-led sound branches somewhere off the same musical family tree that gave us top Belgian faves Jaune Toujours and the long-lost La Cucina, with the rural literary flair of Blyth Power, XTC and Dancing Did chucked in the mix. Bits of hyper-Balkanisation bloody their noses on some crunchy Roma-jazz, and waves of sppedy punkfolk ska crash in the mix on cheesy surf organ and the ghost of Cap'n Beefheart. And a whole exhausting (in a good way) lot more. Exhilarating playing, fab lyrics, energy to spare: if I was running The Modern Day Festival - deservedly excoriated in the song of the same name - I'd be straight on the phone to book these guys for next year. If they're this exciting on record then the live experience is going to be truly extraordinary. Go get, from www.raggedtrouseredphilanthropists.co.uk
24-7 Magazine October 2009
They don’t do demos, JULIAN GASKELL & HIS RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS. They do fully realised works of prole art that eschews the idea of clambering up the music industry ladder only to land on a snake and end up in a heap of disappointment. True to form, ‘Here The Brute Harpies Make Their Nests’ finds Gaskell and Co stepping up a gear and self-releasing an album that oozes confidence, irreverence, independence and brilliance; cementing their reputation as Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello’s defiantly Cornish bastard offspring. Taking us into a tumbledown world of squeezeboxes, fiddles, percussive waywardness and intellectual drinking, these 14 songs will make you swell with underclass pride even if you’re a bourgeois bum, with a lyric booklet that is worth the admission fee alone. Magnificent.
Julian Gaskell once more, assembles his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (also featuring long time associate Kester Jones). Recorded down in Falmouth and St Keverne and then mastered in the New Forest, Julian is firmly at the helm on this album, which seems driven by the sound of drunken sailors, irate country folk and some occasional outright punk rock. Lyrically, this constitutes an imposing and enjoyable collection of words. ‘I never trust a man who says he don’t like Elvis..’ he firmly declares on “Gastro Pubs”.
Musically, there’s the continued measure of protest song and European gypsy bohemia stirred in with Hispanic and Latino influences, captured within the urgent soul of the political new wave movement as espoused by the Clash (check out the up tempo punk / folk / ska attack of “Pushing Up The Weeds” and “Kolomeyke”, both of which almost make a Specials re-union pointless). Moments appear like the extended drum and percussion solo on “Bottle of Luck”, which must be a definite riot live.
There are also journeys into realms of relative strangeness – “The Old Cow Died” is a traditional piece that was a fairly robust and basic chant to begin with, but with a heavy clatter it all ends up with a fizz of feedback and what could quite possibly be actual fighting, before “Dustbins Amongst Men” delivers an instrumental interlude, constructed from rumbles and in general, the sound of the earth turning. If one thing can help demonstrate what Julian Gaskell is up to (and has previously done in the past), it’s the track “No Housing Benefit Smokers Or Pets” – a brash, word heavy social text, accompanied by the energetic clatter of an electric guitar's hurried rattles and twangs. A Bulgarian traditional tune “Gankino Horo”, is excitedly hacked and brushed up into a fragmented wig-out, in what can only can be described as some kind of gypsy punk prog rock melee, but it’s not before long that there’s a return to their best topic via “Weep In Your Beer”. The album concludes with “The People’s Piano”, the breakneck sound of the band barrelling down a hill, pausing for a drink on the way down, before providing one last energetic cartwheel down the final furlong. Great stuff indeed. MMMM ½