The Pikeys are a band that initially formed between Ben Mentze and Mike Dalton in 2010. Many more members would follow including Trevor Miller, Glenn Newport, Patrick Hennessey, Brian Watson, Erik Stillabower and Matt Holland. The band has been compared to bands such as Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys. I’m more familiar with the latter and there are undeniable similarities in that they combine traditional Irish influence with punk. The band says, “The Pikeys are not an overtly Irish Punk band, but more a rock band with an Irish influence, and Gypsy spirit” but in all honestly that seems to be splitting hairs. Their latest release The Sons of War & Whisky follows a specific story which you can read about in detail on their website.
The album at its best invokes a spirit that is somewhere between an anthemic drinking song and a melody you would sing before going into battle. They start off with “Drunk In Cardiff” which is a song where the band displays their ability to combine four chord style punk with Irish Influence. The song is fun, festive and a little bit rowdy.
The same could be said about “ARA” which features distinct different vocal styles, some incredible proficient string work and memorable melodies. “Botany Bay” and “The Public House feat. Keith Roberts” felt little less punk and more traditional to my ears.
“Waxies’ Dargle” brings back the distortion to good effect and at this point I found the diversity in the album very fulfilling, They mixed up the approach just enough to keep it interested and having me wonder what else might be around the corner. “Battle” is the arguable highlight. The song made me think of a battle scene from Braveheart. It’s a glorious song that will make an army go into battle ready to die for their convictions.
There are some more curveballs as the album progresses such as the Tom Waits-esque “Sons of War” and the instrumental “Requiem for Josh.” They close with “Blacks and Tans” which is a great celebratory closer.
The Pikeys were an easy band to appreciate. At the very least these are some great drinking songs but beneath the surface are meaningful lyrics and ideas that should not go unnoticed. Recommended.
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