As far as the indie scene is concerned, there aren’t many Celtic rockers around, at least that are within radar range. So it pleases me to no end to find Barleyjuice in my mailbox. Here we have an American group infatuated with traditional Irish folk music and having an absolute ball with it. While they don’t bastardize the genre with punk rock edges (something that the Pogues did quite well in the ’80s), Barleyjuice are not paint-by-numbers revivalists, either.
What you’d expect from an band like this — bagpipes, fiddles, banjos, whistles, mandolins — is all here, but the sound is indeed more rocking and the mood, for the most part, is on the giddy side. There’s some scorching fiddles on “Modern Pirates” and the usual sentiments about getting drunk. The playful innocence of the music and the lyrics are wonderfully charming.
Barleyjuice like to combine classic material (“Real Old Mountain Dew,” “Tim Finnegan’s Wake”) with new tunes of their own (“Pretty Wild Bride,” “Love With a Priest”), and honestly you can’t tell the difference between what is old and current, which the band should be applauded for. After all, authenticity is crucial is getting these tunes across.
The musicianship is top-notch, and the chemistry between these guys is pretty electric — you can feel their enthusiasm bursting from the speakers.