Day 17 – Washington Irving

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on some remote island somewhere (and if you have, how the hell are you reading this anyway?), you’ll be well aware of the ongoing Scottish independence referendum that’s currently taking place.

Now I have no intention of debating each side of the argument, or focusing on projections, or declaring allegiance one way or another. All will become clear on Friday morning when a new chapter of Scottish politics opens, whatever way the vote goes.

But to mark the fact that the world’s eyes will be on Scotland for the next few days, I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some great Scottish bands on this blog.

First up are folk punks Washington Irving – a great wee group whose Clash-inspired rock and roots is a welcome relief to the mandolin plucking of some modern folk-rock acts like Mumford & Sons. According to their tour mates Frightened Rabbit, these guys are “carrying the folk torch and using it as an arsonist might”, which is an awesome description of what they do.

I was originally going to post something from their 2010 EP Little Wanderer, Head Thee Home, which was the first recording I came across – but when I delved a little deeper into their subsequent offerings, I plumped for Palomides instead.

It’s a far fiercer song than some of their earlier stuff, full of brooding guitars, screechy background violins and some seriously gruff, moody vocals. There’s a lot of New Model Army-esque stuff here, mixed together with English Civil War-era Clash and The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Maybe even a few Shane Macgowan or Nick Cave (at their most menacing) undertones. Put it all together and the result is a great piece of folk punk which nails its colours firmly to the latter part rather than the former.

As a bonus, it’s a top-notch video too. First time I’ve seen a band create a Magic Eye promo for one of their singles.

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