Local Wire

The Brazen Heads

Fans of Irish folk-rock like Flogging Molly will go Paddy-batty for this local release, which blends traditional tunes like "Hag at the Churn" and "One Eyed Reilly" with spirited, fiddle-driven originals like the snarky title track (where guitarist/vocalist Liam Mackey wails "C'mon, c'mon, Annie, tell us all who's the daddy? And tell us all who's yer paddy?") and the mellow folk ballad "Dirty Dublin," which borrows more from Americana and classical music than raucous Paddy pub burners. The classical influence comes through most strongly on a live recording of Pachelbel's "Canon in D," which sees Brazen Heads stringmeister Tim Sadow taking a composition more than 400 years old and giving it a contemporary kick by leading a weepy viola over a two-step beat that escalates into a scream-inducing shitkicker before subsiding back into its traditional slow-tempo swagger. There are still plenty of scorchers, however — take a listen to the originals "Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "If I Ever Lived Before." The former combines the lyrical talent of Brazen Heads multi-instrumentalist Mark Lanus with Sadow's catchy fiddle licks, chronicling the story of the Great Famine of the 1840s in Ireland. The former is driven by a surprising and haunting disco groove, propelled by drummer Roy Plisko's backbeats and the Bee Gees-ish bass line of Bill Plisko, who wrote the song. While many write off Irish folk-rock and Celtic punk as a musical flash in the pan already grease-fired by bands like Flogging Molly, The Dubliners, and anything connected to the incomparable (and incomparably debauched) Shane MacGowan, there's a musical prowess and cultural authenticity to the Brazen Heads' music that commands the listener's attention.

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea