An energetic dose of Celtic-punk

The blending of musical genres is always a very fascinating process and Neck’s London-Irish Celtic-punk style is no exception. Fusing Ceilidh music with frantic punk characteristics, the six-piece band release their debut album on the Golf Records label, ‘Come Out Fighting’. Neck’s sound is often very reminiscent of The Pogues, which is no bad thing, but unfortunately tends to remove any sense of originality.

It is important to remember that this type of music is most suited to a live scenario and to encapsulate the sense of energy that Neck are capable of in a studio recording is quite a difficult feat. The opening self-titled track is an explosion of attitude, exposing the rowdiness of the Celtic punk rockers. Their infectious energy is maintained for the following track, ‘Everybody’s Welcome to the Hooley;’ the band’s 2006 anti-racism single that deservedly made it into the UK charts.

‘The Homes of Donegal’ is refreshing relaxation of pace, allowing the firmness of the punk inspiration to aptly support the charm and fluidity of the folk music. Whilst the more upbeat songs on this album are captivatingly energetic, it is these types of songs that suit the combination of the two genres so very well. The punk influences particularly surface in songs such as ‘The Star of County Down’, satisfyingly reweighting the balance between folk and punk to retain audience interest. Instrumental tracks such as ‘The Lilting Banshee Set’ leave no doubt that Neck are an ensemble of capable musicians, but fail to convince that they are assisting in the evolution of contemporary popular music. The ballad, ‘I’ll Still be Blue Over You,’ acts as another welcome reduction in tempo, but soon returns to the clearly favoured upbeat nature of ‘Ourselves Alone’, ‘Barney Hare’ and ‘Always Upsetting Somebody’. ‘Come Out Fighting’ concludes with ‘The Foggy Dew’, initially stripping away the thicker textures of the band before erupting into life for one final burst of electric-influenced traditional Irish dance music.

Neck have pursued an interesting hybrid of musical styles, with the frenetic nature of the punk and ceilidh styles generally blending well. Unfortunately, the overall sound comes across as little more than a return to a musical ground covered and conquered by The Pogues and The Clash decades ago. However, if you are a fan of Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphys, then Neck are definitely worth checking out.