Music Review: The Stanfields - Death & Taxes

More high energy punk-Irish from these favourite Haligonians. Working-class themes abound, whether old tales of the 18th century (The Boston States, Mrs. McGrath) or updated for today. There's war, lives and limbs lost, and plenty of drinking. But they also save some spit for the villains of today. Invisible Hands takes aim at the puppet masters hiding inside the glass towers, controlling the price of gas or gold, plundering from all. It's worthy of a Midnight Oil tune.

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The title cut explodes with drums and grinding guitar, and then becomes the perfect mix of old Irish style and new lyrics. A tale about a player with no soul, the opening couplet reference one of the classic folk lyrics: "Well you strutted in the place with a smirk on your face/To get a real big taste of the hustle and flow, Hustle and flow, hustle and flow." Whatever crime this white collar was part of, he gets away with it in the next stanza: "Slap on the wrist and a tsk tsk tsk/ But you shared no risk in the penalty-oh, The penalty-oh, the penalty-oh."

The Stanfields do all of this with blazing guitars, drums, bass, and coarse singing from Jon Landry, although it's Jason Wright's bouzouki that puts the Celtic in it all. It's a winning combination and for my bucks, more real than the likes of The Dropkick Murphys. Too many of these bands sound like Pogues wannabes, but that's not where The Stanfields are coming from. They want to rock very hard, honour traditional East Coast music, and sing about being from a place with hard-working people, the ones they grew up with, and the ones in their audience. Everyone of these ten tracks is going to make a grand addition to the group's smokin' live show, too.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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