reviews

BBC Radio Shropshire

“Wow! foof! blimey!… that was pretty awesome wasn’t it?! It’s good isn’t it; very good It’s Monster Ceilidh Band – ‘Mutation’ is the CD and that’s ‘Trouser Worrier’ ” Genevieve Tudor – BBC Radio Shropshire

folkradio.co.uk  review of Mutation 

Monster Ceilidh Band, a six-piece outfit from Newcastle, are no strangers to experimentation, and with Mutation, they continue to demonstrate a great talent for producing innovative yet accessible music.  A band which pushes the boundaries of contemporary folk in all the right directions, Monster Ceilidh Band never retreat into a pastiche of either drum and bass or folk.  Their synergy respects both genres, and this results in an album that is both credible and really good fun.
The opening track, Venus, begins with a solo fiddle tune that sounds more traditional than might be expected, considering the graffiti-esque album artwork (which looks like it could have come straight from a Gorillaz release).   A minute and a half in, and the fiddles are joined by lively piano accordion playing and an insistent mandolin rhythm.  Then the drum kit arrives, along with some pleasingly unexpected tune directions, which build to showcase fast and competent playing.  The track leads into the full drum and bass sound that the group are best known for, now cleverly interwoven with the original fiddle tune. These intriguing texture bode well for the rest of the album.Trouser Worrier drops into dance much more quickly.  The real talent here is that Monster Ceilidh Band’s style is clearly club influenced, yet light enough to still be enjoyable for those who are not natural followers of dance music.  The track closes with fast and furious playing from the piano accordion and mandolin; an almost bluesy feel which breaks down into some frankly awesome slides. It’s nothing like anything I’ve heard recently, but it’s a great blend.
Lusty features more of the same winning formula, with dancing fiddles over a heavy rock beat, and the piece is played with a lyrical swing style which signposts that at its heart, this is still a folk album.  The tune is from a Henry Atkinson manuscript of 1694-5, and it is a testament to the band’s arranging skill that they can fit it in so well with their signature style.
After this rock interlude, Reasoning begins as a softer, more pop-based offering, with a light beat from the drums and an upbeat tune from the fiddles.  It’s a great stylistic contrast to previous tunes, which nevertheless remains true to the overall concept of the album.  There were some clever pauses which made me smile, combined with swooping fiddle and effective use of piano accordion.  Monster Ceilidh Band are not going to let the listener fall back on a more traditional safety-net though. It doesn’t take long for them to get back to drum and bass with a will, building in intensity with their characteristic inexorable beat.
It’s back to foundations with Mutated Beeswing, which comprises the Beeswing Hornpipe (1811-1853), and the self-penned ‘Mutation’.  The original tune starts the set, and it seems a charming, typically Victorian, and rather pastoral offering.  This tongue in cheek approach and the increasingly complex ornamentation show that they also know how to have great fun with musical style.  There’s an amusing change of key, and then the piano accordion joins in as the tune begins to slide from the original in almost imperceptible ways.  At this point in the album, you know the band well enough to appreciate that these little changes mean that they are gearing up for something big, and everything changes at the four-minute mark.  The resultant use of rhythm and acoustic instrumentation is admittedly more subtle than I was expecting, and I give them credit for that.  They didn’t just drop drum and bass on the tune from a height, but instead kept the sense of melody alive with vocals and a sense of busy flight.  Oh, and a drum machine.
So far, Monster Ceilidh Band had kept me guessing in a way that I truly wasn’t expecting.  All the Swingle Ladies is no exception.  This is another band-authored tune with the charmingly traditional-sounding title of ‘Miss Carly Bain of Kelso’, dedicated to the band’s favourite fiddle player.  Here, the whole group join in a lively (and yes, swinging) offering, with the addition of the now-familiar background drums. For me, Never Will is the standout set of the album.   A funk-blues feel from the bass is joined by a lilting tune from the piano accordion and fiddles, while the drums give a brilliant beat that you can’t help but move to.  The second tune kicks off with inspired vocals and a wah pedal on the mandolin, which give a definite party vibe and dial up the funk inspiration. Octopus starts as a strong and menacing fiddle tune which writhes in all directions.  Penned by band member Amy Thatcher, it showcases the piano accordion and mandolin particularly well.  Although not as sparkling as some of the other tunes on the album it does show Monster Ceilidh Band’s flair for storytelling with instrumental tunes. Twisted Bridge sees the group firmly back on form, beginning with a bouncing traditional tune that is helped along by the drums and mandolin.  Fantastic bass chords add to the richness of the sound and compliment the precision playing.  The second tune feels more frantic, and I predict that this is where most listeners will be jumping up and down (if they haven’t started already).  The set builds to an inspired moment where the mandolin drops out to let the fiddles come through before everyone joins in for a punchy and abrupt unison ending. The final set, Disgrace begins with a block of sound from the chord players and a keening fiddle which breaks down into real drum and bass.  There is an echoing fiddle overlay, but here it’s the drums that take centre stage.  There is a competing and busy feel that is almost overwhelming.  However, it does prove that Monster Ceilidh Band are great at layering sound.  Everyone gets a chance to showcase their technique, whether that be funk and rock from the mandolin and bass, lyrical phrasing from the fiddles, technically perfect playing from the piano accordion, or a baffling yet intriguing collection of sounds from the drum machine.   As the drum fades down at the end of the track, the listener is left with a faint melody, as well as a lingering sense of the potential of traditional music to surprise.
 This may be the only time I admit that white noise and a drum machine could be a genius idea on a folk release, and the whole album is crafted like a good club set, sure to build a live audience up to fever pitch.  Their sound is like the cool sibling of traditional folk, the one with the band t-shirt and heavy eyeliner.  In short, Monster Ceilidh Band have created an album full of head-banging, glowstick-waving energy – and it’s epic.
 

Culture Vultres (www.culturedvultures.com)

“The Monster Ceilidh Band, our new favourites, who played a gig with so much upbeat enthusiasm that we managed to forget that there was almost literally a monsoon raging outside which had ruined much of the day”

 

John Boden’s top pick for Sidmouth 2016

“…oh god, oh god, oh god…. [Monster Ceilidh Band] were incrdible”

Nick Walden after calling for the Sidmouth 2016 ceilidh in the Bulverton

 

Fee Locke

“Monster ceilidh Band are my new favorate band”

after calling for us at Cecil Sharpe House

 

“beautiful playing”

Mike Harding Costa Del Folk 2016

“[Monster Ceilidh Band] were absolutely brilliant!”

Cara Dillon after dancing to us at Costa del Folk 2016

“[it was an] outstanding performance by the Monster Ceilidh Band, we were loving it”

Organisers of Costa del Folk 2016

 

NARC Magazine

Headlining this month’s event are stunning electro-folk wonders Monster Ceilidh Band, bringing their latest album Charge to the Boiler Shop Steamer, Newcastle. The LP is a quirky but amazingly catchy and fun mix of electronic dance music and traditional folk – if it sounds a bit odd, we guarantee you’ll be converted after a barnstorming hour long set.

http://narcmagazine.com/news-monster-ceilidh-band-lindsay-hannon-plus-soshe-iceni-boiler-shop-steamer-newcastle/

 

Zoe Addison, Efestivals.co.uk

[on main stage at Eden 2015 I caught] Monster Ceilidh Band, an electro folk group from my home town of Newcastle. They fused traditional, intricate folk tunes played on the fiddle and mandolin, with boisterous drum and bass beats to create an intense sound. The crowd thrived off the band’s energy and we were soon surrounded by swirling fans lost in an emphatic jig.”

Read more at http://www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/edenfestival/2015/review-overview.shtml#W4KWkJui08QIIQRE.99

Holmfirth folk festival

            “The Monster Ceilidh Band put on a stomping ceilidh on Saturday night”

Review of Charge by Songlines magazine

Monster ceilidh Band wear their virtuosity lightly, throwing influences from all over the spectrum with soaring fiddle and atmospheric percussion that more than delivers on the promise of a good time.

Graeme Thomson

Review of Charge by fRoots magazine

You get more monster in your ceilidh. Third time out for the ever improving and expanding MCB – now with extra-added sample, groove, beat and dub, – Charge evolves their mutant strains to a level where techno begins to push over the trad, not completely but elbow room for folk dance is becoming limited. Vralkada opens up proceedings with that blueprint, almost tweed skirts and Fair Isle sweaters for the first passage. Gradually the computer percussion and twangy samples run it through. On the meat of the album 80s Ferret and Anti Gravity heavy electronics and programming surface. Super Mario Smack Down shoves tinny games sound effects into a blender with improvisation and a squeezebox on helium.

 Halfway through, as if almost exhausted by hardware input, Cosmos No 2 is a slow air straight out of a Highland village hall Saturday night hop. Back into bangin’ territory Gyto makes churning noise and rumble under a fiddle reel; Alien Forces follows a similar gameplan, the weird bleeps and gurgles buoying the fiddle and octave mandolin. Mr G works itself into a real lather, drummer Joseph Truswell (aka Touch) adding rim fire and bullet-shot percussion to an already fullon setting, composed by Carly Blain, Amy Thatcher and er… Mike Scott?!

 From the footsteps, whispered endings and spoken intros (“1,2,3 4, off we go…”) much of this would appear to have been done fairly live, there’s even room for the odd dose of crowd holler and OTT applause. Recorded in Newcastle and mixed by bassist David De La Haye – a fine job too, sir – MCB really are one band who are probably best producing their own efforts; only they know where they want to go next. Charge may wear warpaint and come heavily armed, but murder on the dance floor is the last thing on the agenda. Some of us would just love them to conjure a bonus CD of hardcore, down and grungy remixes but, hey, there is wit, depth, exuberance and an enthralling catchiness here which makes this hard to resist.

Simon Jones, fRoots magazine

Review of Charge by R2 magazine

The third album from the MCB slips in with some driving accordion led playing setting the toes tapping. Just when aunty’s starting to nod her head though the cocoa goes flying as the beats and electronics kick in and its monster business as usual. 

One of the most exciting/heretical – you decide – dance bands in the country  MCB link british traditional music  and throbbing post-rave party madness to create an insidiously euphoric  blend that few attempt, and even fewer achieve. With individual credits covering most of the scene the bands folk credentials are immaculate, but they ares shaped by drum band bass producer Joe Truswell into something vibrantly fresh.

Highlights include the heavy, and gloriously titled ’80′s Ferret’ and the spiralling Ozric-folk of ‘Alien Forces’ but this isn’t an album from which to pick and mix tracks rather its a set to get you on your feet and flailing about like crazy. Joyously visceral, Charge is on of the most celebratory records I’ve heard in long time.

Oz Hardwick

******

Folk at the Hall

“…the incredible Monster Ceilidh Band [are] a fantastic group of musicians”

Review of Charge by Living Tradition Magazine

Based in the north east of England, partly because it’s cheap and partly because of the Newcastle University course in traditional music, these five young musicians are united by their love of ceilidh music and other weird passions. They each bring their own cultural influences, from the island traditions of Jersey (onions and stripy tops) to the Northern customs of Kelso (actually pretty much the same). Amy Thatcher’s accordion and Carly Bain’s fiddle lead the melodies; Scottish and English tunes mixing with many other ingredients in their own compositions. The combination of David de la Haye, Kieran Szifris and Joseph Truswell could loosely be termed a rhythm section, but it’s much more than that – odd noises, computer effects, primal vocals and, frankly, anything else that seemed like a good idea at the time.

This music has many of the things that young folk like: drums, bass, grooves, riffs, loops, offbeats and backbeats, to name but a few. It also has very traditional elements: cracking accordion and fiddle, toe-tapping dance tunes and that all-important credibility booster: clogs! You really can dance to these guys – they’ve included a couple of live tracks to prove it, but the Monster Ceilidh Band has everything you need for a warming Waves Of Tory or a storming Strip The Willow. A waltz might be pushing it, mind you. Titles like Super Mario Smack Down and Alien Forces don’t immediately conjure up couples gliding gracefully across the floor, unless they’re armed to the teeth and/or recently deceased. Jigs, reels and hornpipes are where it’s at on Charge: polkas and schottisches too and maybe even a two-step, enough for most ceilidhs. However, you could also treat this as hip-hop grunge-style club’n’dub, or whatever they’re calling party music these days.

Don’t be put off by the cartoon-style artwork, the video game themes, the computer effects or the occasional bits of shouting: there’s good solid music to be enjoyed and danced too here! On the other hand, if the weird modern idiom and 21st-century references are what attracted you to Charge, try not to think of it as Anglo-Celtic European folk dance music until it’s too late and you’re properly hooked by the cool vibe and grimy beats, yeah? This is ceilidh music for a broad age group, good on CD and probably even better live, so whether you are old enough to have watched Hawaii Five-O in its original 1970s rather wooden incarnation starring Jack Lord, or only saw its equally wooden 2010 re-imagining with Alex O’Loughlin in the lead role and a disappointing Grace Park not fulfilling her promise from Battlestar Galactica, my conclusion regarding the Monster Ceilidh Band is the same: “Book ‘em, Danno!”

Alex Monaghan

Live review from Great British Folk Festival by regionalmag.com

[Then] it was the turn of the Monster Ceilidh Band to finish the evening. Now I make no secret of the fact that I did not know what a ceilidh was, but the whole point of this experience is that the people who come to this Festival do so to listen to the music; not to get drunk and have a riotous time like the 70’s Big Weekenders where the music is secondary. At this Festival people are very knowledgeable about the music and I found on several occasions that they were willing to impart that knowledge.

So, a Ceilidh is a traditional Gaelic social gathering which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. This means that the Monster Ceilidh Band must mean fun, fun, and more fun! They are a Newcastle based 4 piece band with extraordinary credentials. Their music combines explosive and fiery folk with funky rifts, glitchy Drum ‘n’ Bass beats and live drums. The whole set had a stomping dance sound and it was not too long before this audience were up on their feet. Their show was frenetic and dynamic and they delivered with a real lively energy. It was clear that they were all about having a really good time and making sure that their audience was with them every step of the way. Their set list included many numbers which built from a gentle start to a rolling, hypnotic finale, and Islay Eye and Magic Pepper were raucous and rapid but equally fantastic.

It was clear to me that the marriage of energetic ceilidh music with electro sounds and beats is a huge success, or is it solely because of this bands modern and unpatronising approach to ceilidh music? Either way this was a fantastic way to end the first night of the Festival. It was top music from a great band and I will most certainly go and see them again.

Kevin Cooper

Fatea Instrumental album of the year award winners – Monster Ceilidh Band for Charge

http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/Winners2013.html

Folk Radio UK album of the Month and review Monster Ceilidh Band – Charge 7 JANUARY 2014

by SIMON HOLLAND
in ALBUM REVIEWS, FEATURED ALBUMS

At the heart of the Monster Ceilidh Band is the word ceilidh. The word derives from the old Irish céle, which simply means partner and originally referred to any social gathering. Most commonly these were a mixture of story and song, ballads, poetry and proverbs that find echoes in the veillée of Brittany, but also played an important role in courtship, giving a chance for the young folk of rural and island communities to meet and mingle. Unsurprisingly the celebratory and in particular dance elements of these events got the upper hand, to the point where the word ceilidh is now primarily associated with folk dancing. That definition certainly seems appropriate for the Monster Ceilidh Band, who are primed to get you moving, but stripping back the etymology, the root in the word partner is also on the money, as they use a bold and unique fusion of the folk tradition and modern electronic dance music to achieve it.

If a fusion of the folk tradition and drum & bass sounds an unlikely marriage, then you’ve probably not had the pleasure of listening to the Monster Ceilidh Band. They belong to the progressive movement in folk music for whom there are few boundaries. For their fusion to work, it goes without saying that the individuals of the band are exceptionally talented musicians. They share an innate understanding of the tradition and the origins of the band owe much to the folk music degree course at Newcastle University. They also share a willingness to push the boundaries of where that tradition can be taken and while retaining the timbral range of traditional instruments, the beats and rhythms take equal inspiration from club culture.

Arguably it’s the only sensible route for folk music to go. Even if you take the basic definition of it being, ‘music for the folk,’ then surely it has to keep evolving, adapting to our changing culture. Otherwise it simply becomes outmoded and ‘music for the historian,’ which is surely self-defeating. There will doubtless be some out there who will disagree, but the Monster Ceilidh Band have been delighted that they are finding an audience of all ages and persuasions.
This really shouldn’t come as any surprise as the current popularity of the genre is surely about having the greatest diversity of quality music made under the folk umbrella that we have ever known. The likes of Bellowhead and the Imagined Village in England, Shooglenifty, Lau and The Peatbog Faeries north of the border, demonstrate the range of possibilities and have done much over the last few years to broaden folk music’s appeal. The Monster Ceilidh Band sit happily amongst them and geographically in between, with their borders’ locations and musical leanings.
But, besides all of that, when you listen to Charge, what is there not to like? The CD is built around strong tunes, most of which are composed by Amy Thatcher and Carly Blain, who lead the melodic attack on accordion and fiddle respectively. Amy is of course a member of The Shee, who should probably be included in the list of bands above, certainly on musical ability and inventiveness, if not yet on audience numbers. Carly Blain’s Border Fiddles meanwhile may be more bed-rock traditional, but feature no less than five of the region’s top fiddle players, which surely must keep her on her toes. Both are graduates of the aforementioned folk music degree course at Newcastle University.
The rhythmic drive is provided by bassist David De La Haye and the latest recruit Joseph ‘The Touch’ Truswell, who comes from the world of drum & bass, but is now putting the drum part of that into the band full time, bringing with him some of the sampling and electronic interference too – although that is meant in a positive way here. David originally hails from just about as far south as the British Isles go, being born on Jersey, but via Leeds he also gravitated to Newcastle University, earning a Masters in electronic music and also immersing himself in the local folk sessions he found in pubs and flats across the city. With his studio know how, David also mixed these sessions. Straddling rhythmic and melodic duties is Kieran Szifiris playing octave mandolin. His other band isGathering Sky and their Americana/folk hybrid adds yet more diversity to the individual musical output of this quintet. Naturally, Kieran is also another of the success stories of the Newcastle University music course.
Despite or possibly because of the diversity of their interests and influences, when they come together musical magic happens. Although in fairness,Vralkada, sets off with a confident stride rather than anything out of the ordinary. It’s a tune by Swedish folk musician and composer Roger Tollroth, that Amy and Carly lead out in jaunty style, with Kieran adding a riff from his mandolin. There are just a few odd background noises that drop the first clues of something out of the ordinary is about to happen, but a couple of verses in, a voice emerges from the depths of the mix, extolling all to, “Make some noise,” and the whole thing kicks up to fifth gear with a skittering drum pattern.
80’s Ferret is both unusually titled and all together a thoroughly more unconventional beast, pumped full of fuzztones and squelching synths. It’s one of Kieran’s tunes so it’s perhaps in keeping that he plays the axe-hero, but more than that it really lifts the record. As the tracks unfold everyone gets their turn, but the funkiness of some of the interplay between bass, drums and mandolin is terrific, while the fiddle and accordion out front lead a merry dance into the spaces the rhythm boys leave. The harmonic layering is absolutely outstanding.

GYTO is proof of the wisdom of everything the Monster Ceilidh Band’s quintet have set their collective minds on.
Every bit as delightfully and chirpily cheesy as the title suggest Super Mario Smack Down, could well soundtrack the cartoonish rigmarole of the game-play. It blends naturally into Anti Gravity, which keeps the sense of fun high, while upping the levels of complexity again. Mr G and the curiously brilliant Cosmos No. 2 take things into to a slightly more moody direction with melancholic and wistful airs. The latter is especially good, with its oddly compelling echoing footfall. It gives way to GYTO, which to me is the absolute highlight of the album. In fact these two tracks will likely find themselves on heavy rotation on my iPod some time in the immediate future. GYTO is proof of the wisdom of everything the Monster Ceilidh Band’s quintet have set their collective minds on. It has the juice to make even the likes of Lau look on in envy, but is also great fun.

But then as for highlights, two minute into Jack’s Back, the track that is built around their interpretation of the drum & bass mega-hit, Bodyrock, the typing of this was interrupted by some impromptu and rather foolish shapes being thrown. Aaah, hell! It’s just impossible to resist!

Fatea album of the month, December 2013 & nominated for ‘best instrumental album of the year’ award.

Review of charge from Roots of the world

[Charge by Monster Ceilidh Band] is a joyful turbocharged folk funk party with jazzy rocky bits thrown in for good measure resulting in euphoric hapiness x100!

Review from Spark Sunderland

“…then it was time for the big guns to be let loose on the folk-fanatic music fans (or Little Monsters, as the Ceilidh Band call them). Having reviewed these guys before I knew what I was letting myself in for. They were the same if not better than before as they fuse every form of music that is known to man and somehow make it work. It was first class, good old folk music. It was such a good night that now as I write this I can still hear the music ringing in my ears!”

Gemma Hirst, Sunderland Spark

Folkwords.com review of Charge by Tim Carroll

‘Charge!’ definitely does not fit into the standard ‘cup of folk tea’ bracket, indeed many folkies, trad

or otherwise, will find this album about as endearing as a cup of hemlock … but that’s their problem. The Monster Celidh Band bring yet another fusion to folk with electronic effects and drum ‘n’ bass power grafted onto traditional accordion and fiddle-led dance tunes. The energy is persistent, the performance uncompromising, the meld inimitable and if your feet remain still then someone has nailed your shoes to the floor.
I first encountered their genre-busting, tradition-frightening brand of folk with their first studio album ‘Mechanical Monster’. Now with a string of festival standing-ovations and legions of wiped-out, exhausted audiences to their credit they release their second studio album ‘Charge!’ From the surge of opening energies with ‘Vralkada’ and the superbly titled ‘80’s Ferret’ through the slightly less frenetic ‘Anti-Gravity’ and ‘Mr.G’ to the multi-layered live version of ‘Gyto’and ‘Alien Forces’ this leads folk in unfamiliar, bizarre and intriguing directions.
As stated earlier, ‘Charge!’ is not for everyone, but for me it’s yet another injection of excitement for folk music. That doesn’t mean chucking out the baby with the bathwater and neither is it tearing down tradition with some permanently pissed-off wave of post-punk angst. No, this is yet one more vibrant bud emerging from one of the folk tree’s many and eclectic branches. It means ‘go with the flow’.

Beat-Herder 2013

Monster Ceilidh Band were stunning; a brilliant main stage set which managed to get the hot, tanned, but always well oiled, crowd finally on their feet for a brilliant performance. This band play Folk Drum & Bass (yes that’s right) and were in excellent form, all the more remarkable given that their regular accordionist, the talented Amy Thatcher, was indisposed and her stand-in replacement did a sterling job! They also provided probably the best slap bass playing of the weekend. Marvellous stuff.

 

http://www.festivalsforall.com/article/beat-herder-2013-review

Kendal Calling

“However the unexpected Friday showdown is found in frantic folk outfit MONSTER CEILIDH BAND. With an eclectic assortment of fiddle, accordion, mandocello, dub bass and drums, the jet-propelled jigs and reels transform the Chai Wallah tent from a contemplative space to a Rainbow Rhythms style hoedown(Peep Show, remember?). The intriguing folk-drum and bass fusion goes down a storm with the crowd, and ends the night with a well-orchestrated bang.” RockFM 

Purbeck 2012

“A thousand people jigging to ceilidh electronica! Monstrously awesome
- a festival highlight.”
Paul Burke, Purbeck Folk Festival director

 

Songlines

It’s alive! A Frankensteinian assemblage of two halves  ****

With lots of funk and zing to move all butts to the floor, the Monster Ceilidh Band remind us that while the word that means dance is internationalised, it still predominantly conjures up Scotland, Ireland and Celtic countries. So it’s a pleasant surprise that they hail from Newcastle, as their brand of music, which induces the skipping, jumping and dancing that has kept thousands warm throughout winter over the centuries, is a real tonic for innovative energy.

The musical references of the acoustic-based disc one trace intense developments in traditional music close to home, a la Kathryn Tickell, and most closely approach the beautifully wiry melodic sound of Finnish radicals Maria Kalaniemi, JPP and other Sibelius academy alumni whose 90s re-thinking and sound has touched the European world music scene over the last 20 years.

The musicianship and arrangements of this gender-balanced foursome is simply stunning, with oodles of contemporary classical and jazz sensibility adding terrific bite to everything they touch: there’s a wonderful atmospheric nuance notable in pieces like ‘Gastown’ and the Kalaniemi-influenced ‘Vralkada’. The highly energised second CD here, ‘Monsters vs The Touch’, has drum ‘n’ bass producer Joseph underpinning pieces with dynamic, quirky edges. Potentially a success of monstrous proportions then.

 

 

Bearded Theory 2012

“In 5 years of putting this dance tent on, I have NEVER had a Sunday afternoon like the Monsters brought!!! The place was jumping!!!
PHIL MELLERSH – Festival Organiser

Bournemouth Folk Festival

The biggest crowd pleaser of the event however, was without a doubt the Monster Ceilidh Band and the explosion of energy that came with them. With their Ceilidh jigs and stage presence they transformed the audience into dancers, as energetic and excited as a bunch of 5 year olds who have just been told their moving to Disneyland. It was one of the most beautifully orchestrated shambles I have ever seen. It was almost too easy to become distracted from the music by the near anarchic dancing of the folk loving horde. Memorising the back and fourths, crossovers and turns that were being instructed from the stage was a visibly difficult assignment for those who’d had more than a few pints of ale. But the band kept the dance under control and played with such technical flair that it was impossible not to enjoy the talented foursome’s compositions. They displayed all the finest attributes of folk and jig music during the great dance workshop and after, moved onto their electronic set. The set began with an industrial buzz that filled the room and when the music kicked in, it became a rowdy and modern adaptation of their ceilidh play list. The broad compilation of musical genres that featured throughout the set even stepped into the realms of drum & bass for what the band believe to be the world’s first cross over ceilidh track

 

Pete Fyffe reviews Mechanical Monster

How could you not be enthused by the spirited sound of the Monster Ceilidh Band?

Choppy full-on Mandocello rhythms are provided by Kieran Szifris and pumping bass courtesy of David De La Haye and if you’re wondering where you’ve heard that name before Mr De La Haye also happens to be a member of Jez Lowe’s Bad Pennies. Topping the mix are the accordion of Amy Thatcher and fiddle of Carly Blain proving that acoustically the band are no slouches.
On the second disk of this double disk set, the driving rhythm in the acoustic ‘engine room’ is given additional drive by programming master Joseph Truswell or ‘The Touch’ as he’s known to his mates and although working to a ‘click track’ is never an easy choice for any musician even when you are the calibre of this quartet it is essential if you are utilising percussive loops.
For those that were wondering where this may have been done before cast your minds back to 1988 and a duo called Tonight At Noon who released an album “Down To The Devils” full of technical wizardry coupled with acoustic instrumentation and a little later by the Bristol based band Marxmen.
So, on the strength of this recording, MCB have unceremoniously contaminated the ‘folk’ music scene by force-feeding it a ‘fix’ of aural steroids and, with a bit of luck our heroes will become the darlings of the late-night festival circuit…Groove on! 

 

The bright young folk review of Mechnical Monster

Monster Ceilidh Band’s second album sees them creating a monster indeed, a double album of 17 tracks encompassing both their standard sound, and the new electro sound of The Monsters Vs. The Touch.

The sound of the band without the electro additions is reminiscent in some ways of Lau. There is a lot of playfulness and slightly unexpected and innovative turns to the tunes, and a high level of musicianship.

David De La Haye adds extra oomph with funky bass guitar and Amy Thatcher’s forays with honky tonk piano also add variety and excitement.

Certainly the ’standard’ Monster Ceilidh Band is a force to be reckoned with (and danced to). In particular Carrot has an incredibly infectious catch, worthy of repeated listening.

However, the real excitement of Mechanical Monster is the second disc, unveiling The Monsters Vs. The Touch. Three tracks from the first disc are repeated, providing easy comparison, accompanied by six fresh tracks.

On first listening, the differences between the two versions of Red Monster, Red Jack and Witches appeared subtle, but they are there, and do create a different flavour to the tunes.

The inclusion of more strident bass in places, alongside percussion and electronic effects (and more) provides greater drive. It encourages both ceilidh dancing and general dancing – these tunes transcend the categorisation of folk dance music.

Islay Eye and Magic Pepper are raucous, maddening, rapid, fantastic. Proggit brings the tempo back, building from a gentle start to a rolling, hypnotic finale.

The marriage of energetic ceilidh music with electro sounds and beats is a huge success. It seems certain that a live show would be frenetic and dynamic, but Monster Ceilidh Band have succeeded, on both discs, to relay that energy onto a recording. No mean feat!

Liz Osman

Malaysia’s leading men’s mag chooses the Monsters as Editor’s Pick

‘New Man’, Malaysia’s answer to ‘Esquire’, reviewed the Monster Ceilidh Band after their storming show at the Rainforest World Music Festival earlier this year. You can read the article HERE

 

US Magazine ‘Driftwood’ reviews our album alongside Ry Cooder and The Chieftains!

Read the review HERE