Friday, March 6, 2009

Amadan review on Celtophilia

Review - Amadan - Pacifica

December 11th, 2008

Artist: Amadan
CD: Pacifica

Bonnie declaims:
Amadan. Pacifica. Rocks, GIMME.
Alright, I guess that doesn’t suffice. More words are needed to describe the awesomeness that is Amadan. I’ll start with the words “Parental Advisory, explicit lyrics.” Yep, they have earned the second adult language warning here at Celtophilia. Irish influenced punk rock and cursing seem to go hand in hand, and I’m surprisingly comfortable with that. That said, I probably wouldn’t play this in front of someone’s under sixteen year old kids. Mostly because if they are letting me around their kids they have enough bad influence type stuff to undo already. In addition to the language, there’s a drug reference and commentary on religion that some people may not care for.

Amadan is a Celtic punk rock band based in Portland, Oregon, and Pacifica is their third full length album release. This is not full out traditional Celtic music, but the influence is definitely there. What is full out about this band? Everything else. These guys play and sing in your face, not afraid to get in a fight, just might have to punch you music. Impressively, they do it with a side of fiddle, whistle, didgeridoo, and cowbell. What’s that you say? Cowbells are neither Celtic nor punk? Ha! Now they are both.

Anchor Tattoo is my favorite track on the CD. This unlikely combination of electric guitar and bass, whistle, and scratchy, growling, sometimes shouting! vocals is exactly my speed. I played this over and over - loudly.

Used To Know contains some great fiddling, and the vocals are as good as the lyrics deserve - which is very good indeed. Alas, this track has fallen victim to the dreaded didgeridoo. We all have our musical prejudices and that is one of mine. Didgeridoo - DO NOT WANT. While the didge makes an appearance on some of the other songs, it’s most prominent here.

Mescaline (and there’s our drug reference) has extremely clever lyrics, I give all the extra credit in the world to Amadan for using the words nuance and misconstrue appropriately in the same song. Also, “I want the blood to pool again beneath my back from you” is possibly one of the dirtiest and yet best lines ever. Musically, there is a moment of pure harmony two minutes and fifty seconds into the song.. Note, that is the only pure thing about this entire CD.

I thoroughly enjoy Pacifica, my only real complaints are the didgeridoo injections and that it would suit me better if the lyrical content was more rather than less Celtic in nature. In all fairness, sometimes I think St. Patrick’s day could stand to be more Celticy, so feel free to take that with a shaker of salt. However, I do think that the Celtic influence here flows mostly from the fiddle and other accompanying music. The adult lyrics weren’t a problem for me, but I don’t think they will be everyone’s cup of tea so I do advise caution. I will definitely play this album when I am in the mood to jump up and down and scream along, but I won’t recommend it to my mother.

Mike proclaims A lot of the time, when I listen to an album that declares itself Celtic Punk… or in this case Post Celtic World Punk, my first complaint will be that it’s neither Celtic, nor Punk, but a confused little creature striving to be both. For Pacifica, the boys in Amadan seem to have sorted out that problem. This is great stuff, and it’s obvious that these guys have deep roots on both sides that really make for an ass-kicking experience. Now that I’ve said that, I must admit something else. The first time I listened to Pacifica, I was really disappointed, and left with the impression that it was sort of soft. When we get new music around Celtophilia HQ, I have a tendency to just throw it on while I’m doing something else. Pacifica is not that kind of CD. It demands your full attention, if you’re going to get the most out of it. Thoughtful lyrics, inventive instrumentation, and masterful blending that require the listener to be on guard at all times. Anyone got a fever? We’ve got punk-rock cowbell coming at ya.

Amongst their influences, Amadan lists Celtic standards like The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and the Chieftans, alongside Rancid, Social D, and Bad Religion. Tracks like Old North End and Mescaline especially remind me of Primus, though, more than anything. Both tracks rank highly on my list of favorites from the album, and both also feature some great fiddling.

Anchor Tattoo really sounds like a radio track to me. It’s catchy, it’s fast, and it could easily be very mainstream. I imagine it being played ad nauseum on the local rock stations, and every 16 year old in the US bouncing around singing “….I know you, black and blue… la la la la … tattoo….” I’m not sure that’s how it’s intended, or even what the guys in the band would want, but it’s an easy mental picture to form. There’s even an interlude of rhythmic clapping, so the cheerleaders can get behind it. Come to think of it, maybe that was the intention from the beginning.

The last two things I have to mention before I close the book on Pacifica are the songs Pishi and Leaving of Liverpool. Pishi gets a mention as the CD’s instrumental track, and it’s definitely a keeper. Sometimes the best thing in the world is to get out of the way and let the music transport the audience. Mission accomplished. Leaving of Liverpool, of course, is a traditional song, with a few punk-rock lyrical twists and an insane beat to make it fit in with the rest of the CD. Look for this one in an upcoming Celtic Music Deathmatch, I think. Bonnie and I can’t wait to get our hands dirty matching it up with some other versions of the song we have lying around.

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