The Black Irish - The Mahones

True North

Remind me to ask Finny McConnell of The Mahones to recall exactly where and when he signed his soul over to Satan. Canada’s best Paddy Punks celebrate 20 years with their 10th studio album. There’s also a new compilation in tribute to them and their music from other pub bands around the globe that’ve become fans. Finny, the front man in the hat would appear to lead an idyllic life. Raised on The Clash and a student of Paul Westerberg’s writing with The Replacements, Finny has been bestowed with the immortal secret to creating shout out loud hooks, chimey power-pop melodies and hoarsely told tales of lovable drunks, cigarette-stained walls and unforgettable gigs he’ll never remember. As a matter of fact, if The Mahones drank Jack instead of Jameson, they’d pretty much sound like The Replacements (with an accordion in place of the second guitar). Speaking squeezes, not only did Finny find and marry his punk rock princess, she doesn’t mind him spending all his time with the band because she’s a Mahone too. On stage to his right you’ll see Katie McConnell; raven hair and ruby lips, one arm a sleeve of ornate ink, she’s mostly obscured by the bellows of her squeezebox. She looks gorgeous and dangerous but what captured Finny’s heart was, as he proudly confesses in one of new album’s most loving moments, “the girl with the Galway eyes.” The disc is called The Black Irish, because in punk, black is always the new black. It’s twelve rounds of premium Mahones that includes the 2010 remix of Paint The Town Red (which paints a moment in the Oscar-nominated flick, The Fighter). It’s a good fit. Finny’s a perfect voice of the underdog, telling it straight through folksy verse like this from the bonus track, Here Comes A Regular, “Summer’s past, it’s too late to cut the grass, there ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall.” The compilation, Whiskey Devils – A Tribute to the Mahones showcases 19 different Celt punk outfits, covering the ground from Spain to England to Ireland to the USA. In turn, their varied performances showcase the resilience and resonance in Fanny’s writing. It’s also a charge to hear how many other Celtpunk bands have singers who sound like they gargle with sandpaper. So, in summation, The Mahones travel the world contributing to simple celebrations of life, making people happy with their music and winning the respect and admiration of their peers. I hope the next 20 years are even more sublime and, to Finny McConnell, when that far off day comes to shrug off this mortal coil, as the sage Irish toast says, “May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” and, before Satan forecloses on your soul.