Review: Flatfoot 56 - Jungle of the Midwest Sea
Label: Flicker Records
Released: May 15, 2007
When a band merges punk and Irish folk, the first influence that comes to mind is the Pogues, but Shane McGowan and company were more a folk band with punk attitude. The real origin of the more punk-leaning mixture is the Stiff Little Fingers. While the bands today tend to wear their Irish hearts on the sleeves (despite not actually being from Ireland in many cases) with a bagpipe here or a tin whistle there, the gritty, honest folk nature of their brand of punk rock is what really ties them to the older folk tradition. It is people's music.
Flatfoot 56 are undoubtedly a punk band and have no small debt to the likes of SLF, but unlike their peers, they owe an even greater debt to the Pogues. They offer more than just a few nods to Irish folk music, with many centered on a tradition that goes back a good many years farther than "Alternative Ulster." It's a natural occurrence for Flatfoot 56, because punk itself has much in common spiritually with folk and they run with that instinctively. That being said, Jungle of the Midwest Sea does have its share of Oi singalongs and raw guitar melodies making it dominated as much by punk as it is by folk.
On "Hoity Toity," they sing, "There is a struggle between doing what you want and doing your own thing." Musically, they resolve the struggle, because they do fit into an old, old tradition where singalong choruses encourage a pub-like atmosphere of community. In the process of meeting that tradition, they have indeed found themselves though.
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