The Hunger & The Fight Part 1 - The Mahones
Whiskey Devil Records
The Mahones don't come with an 'off' switch, only 'standby'. The Toronto-based Irish punks are driven by the love of their swelling, global fan base and the creative output of prolific songsmith, Finny McConnell. The road ends at the studio door and the studio opens a whole 'nother round of concert dates to support the newest addition to their substantial discography. The work is hard and steady but anything but formulaic. Poised at the release of The Hunger & The Fight, Part 1 of a 2 disc opus, The Mahones will take fans in on a new and epic adventure through the evolution of Irish music. Finny wears his influences proudly on his sleeve. His favorite band? The Who, unequivocally and unapologetically. A recent tour stop in Minneapolis felt like a pilgrimage to Finny, tracing the footsteps of his other heroes, Husker Du and The Replacements. He adores the melodic hard stuff and the closing cover on 2012's Angels & Devils of Husker Du's 'Makes No Sense At All' could have been misread as a signal the band could just as well bury the Irish and immerse itself in power pop. Not going to happen, thank Finny's Lucky Charms. 'Brian Boru's March', a stately fiddle tune and album introduction is delivered with grit by Great Lake Swimmers' Miranda Mulholland, taking us way back to circa 1000 AD for a tribute to the King of All Ireland. What follows in sharp relief is a beautifully penned chronicle of the spirit and tragedy that ink the experience of the Irish diaspora; the hunger and the fight. We meet the rebels who bucked the system like Donal Donnelly, 'Prisoner 1082', captured by the British Army, pardoned by Scotland Yard, he was the only prisoner to ever escape Belfast's Crumlin Road, Europe's Alcatraz. He was also Finny's uncle. A movie is in the offing. There's 'Stars', Finny's favorite Mahones tune, honoring Oscar Wilde through smoldering waves of guitar melody, further honored by a special guest appearance from Simon Townsend. The Mahones travel and collaborate with other bands of brothers, whose talents are put into play on The Hunger & The Fight. Tony Duggins from The Tossers swaps lines with Finny for 'Paddy On The Railway', a 19th century comment on the Irish pressed into building the railway. The album darts and dodges through barroom brawlers like the aptly titled St. Patrick's Day Irish Punk Song to the achingly romantic, 'Someone Saved Me'. A sonically dynamic package, produced with wizened ears at their fave recording haunt, Telejet Studios, The Hunger & The Fight finds The Mahones returning to their acoustic roots after years of amping up. The electricity is still there, big time, just sometimes on 'standby'. Are we looking forward to 'The Hunger & The Fight Part 2'? As Finny would say, "Hell Yeah!"