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The Tossers


Review by Gary Hill

I've got a love/hate relationship with Celtic music. Sure, my Maternal Grandfather came over from Ireland, so it's in my blood. And when it's good it can really get you powered up. The working man's folk music quality also lends a lot of charm. The problem is, the musical format – when taken in its most traditional form – is extremely limited. This means a lot of the music sounds the same. Bands like Black 47 incorporate rock music (and in their case even hip hop and other sounds) into the mix to create a sound that is fresh and diverse while still being easily recognizable as Celtic. The Tossers stay a bit closer to the traditional. Fortunately they change it up enough to keep the disc from dragging too much. That said, there are a couple points where it really suffers from a lack of variety. The truth is, though, I like this disc a lot and I'm sure I'll be spinning it quite a bit in the future. I also look forward to more from The Tossers and here's hoping the break even further out of the monotony that some times hinders Celtic music. They've definitely shown a lot of progress in that direction here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Never Enough
A traditional, almost acapella Celtic sound, with angry lyrics serves as the first verse. As they come into the chorus it's in a frantic, powered up Celtic stomping mode. The cut alternates between these two motifs. It's pretty cool – a bit like Black 47, but with a bit more of a punk rock attitude and yet more traditional approaches.
Pub and Culture
Now this is fun! Again I can hear echoes of Black 47 here, but mixed with the sounds of The Chieftains or other more traditional acts. This is fast paced and really working to get you up on your feet. If you can listen to this one without banging your head, you must be dead!
Mellow modes with a melody that feels a bit like “Greensleeves” leads this off. As the vocals come over this becomes a definite folky and moody ballad.
Did It All For You
Back into the fast paced, bouncing modes, this one rocks out quite well, but in a very traditional way. It's another that's guaranteed to get you out of your seat.
The Sheep in the Boots
Very old world in texture and instrumentation, this reminds me a bit of some of the more world music oriented material by Camper Van Beethoven, but with a definitive Celtic bent. This instrumental works through a number of changes and musical motifs and gets quite classical at times while still maintaining a bit of a cacophonic nature.
Not Forgotten
As if they sensed that we needed a break from that powerhouse, they drop it back to some exceptionally sedate and pretty balladic stylings for this cut. While not my favorite track, it's a good way to change things up and give the listener a bit of a breather.
Starting with a faster paced, traditional sound, this pounds out rather quickly into a riotous rocking number that's a great time. It's another sure to get the crowd up and dancing when they play live.
Traps and Ultimatums
Starting with more faithful old world Celtic sounds, quite intricate this time, the track stomps out into more screaming fast rocking sounds. While this is all Celtic it also reminds me of Klezmer music at times.
Another that comes in almost acapella, the vocals are laced over the top of some minor musical textures. It carries on like this for about half a minute before they power the arrangement up by bringing in more instrumentation and volume. I particularly like the instrumental wanderings that take the song later and the extremely powerful combination of sounds that accompany it. This is one of the most evocative and effective tracks on the CD.
Leopardstown Races
This is an angry track that is based on traditional Celtic sounds. While it's alright, this musical concept is getting a bit old by this point in the disc.
Where Ya Been Johnny?
Here we get a more energized, frantic jam. This is more like it and will be another to get the people off their seats. I'd have to say that this is another of my favorites here.
Not Alone
The vocals here come across a pounding drum texture with minor bits of other music serving as punctuation. While the arrangement is about as stripped as it can be, the vocal performance is incredibly strong. That, along with the variety produced by this unusual approach, makes this one of the strongest cuts on the album. After about three minutes in this mode they soar out in a fairly traditional, but also very triumphant sounding musical powerhouse. That mode only lasts for a short time, and they drop it back to just the percussion to eventually take the track out before the four minute mark.
Political Scum
A build up gives way to a hasty transition into the song proper, another mid-tempo jam that reminds me quite a bit of Black 47. I like the changes and incarnations of this one a lot. They power it up then drop it back. When they come back up it seems even more potent in its reinvention. This is another highlight of the disc.
While the overall mode of this isn't all that different from much of the rest of the CD, this is another that's so strong it doesn't really matter that it's not overly unique. Playful and fun, this energetic number is another highlight of the CD.
Movin' On
Starting quite mellow, this is another slice of The Tossers brand of Celtic music. It's another that manages to rise above the bulk of the material just out of the sheer energy and fire of the piece.
The Nut House
They shift it into overdrive again for this frantic cut. By here, though, the theme is running a little overdone for me. This one is a decent track, but not unique enough to really bowl me over.
Drums lead this off. They bring the other instrumentation in with a bouncing mid tempo composition that works better than some of the other material. I don' t know if this was the best choice for disc closer, but the anthemic vocals and positive lyrics go a long way toward making this perfect for the spot. :You can be what you want to be / You can be whatever you see / Whatever in this world makes you happy / Don't listen to “them” listen to “me.” What a great theme to end the festivities!
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