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Fellow Canadians will quickly recognize the name, Walter Ostanek. Around these parts, we refer to him as the “King of Polka”. Name an acclaim, he’s received it. Hear a polka song, he’s probably played it. The man is a legend.
Enter The Dreadnoughts. An East Vancouver scrumpy-brewin, cider swillin gang of misfits. Hellbent on sea shanties, pirate tales, British folklore and punk rock. Vocally disgusted with their ‘celtic punk’ moniker and over taking every show they play, they are single handedly starting their own musical mutiny.
Now mix those two together and what do you get? Well my friends, dare I say a contender for one of the most unique and entertaining albums of 2010. Shocking to say but polka was dying a quick death and this band may have just revived it.
Now please let me educate you on The Dreadnoughts…
The Dreadnoughts are fronted by well-educated, cider connoisseur Nicholas Smyth (formerly of Siobhan fame) and backed by the Swedish Bastard on drums, Seamus on fiddle and accordion, Squid Vicious on bass and the Dread Pirate Druzil on mandolin, banjo and whistles.
“Polka’s Not Dead” is their third album and second on Canadian label, Stomp Records. Previous albums were the monumental (for myself) “Victory Square” and the somewhat pirate-heavy first release, “Legends Never Die”. Let us not also forget the pre cursor to the new album, the “Cyder Punks Unite” EP featuring artwork by the band’s own, Seamus!
Enough rambling, on to the new album…
“Polka’s Not Dead” starts off fittingly with ‘Cider Road’ (also the opener on the Cyder Punks Unite EP!). A straight ahead mandolin laced punk song. Complete with the punk rock speed and angry drunk lyrics you’d expect, such as, “You wanna piece of me now ? I am the cider king, I am the whiskey whore…”.
Next in line, “Polka Never Dies”. A soon to be polka hit at Casino show lounges, legion halls and come-and-go teas nation-wide. Frankie Yankovic, Walter Ostanek and Chuck Pendrak would be proud.
Filed with persuasive lines such as…
“Come all you indie hipster darlings and new pop country starlings, to the main street legion hall…look into my crystal ball, polka never dies!”
How could you not get hooked on that oomp-pa-pa party anthem?
Quickly following suit are the British diddy, “Gintlemen’s Club”, an impressive sea shanty, “Randy Dandy-Oh” (that may find the Swedish Bastard returning to banging the drum as he surfs the crowd) and the instrumental, “Goblin Humppa”.
My first taste of the new album came in the form of a live version of the next song, “Poutine”. A declaration of love for a French-Canadian dish that the band can’t get enough of. This song also has a heartfelt shout out to Joe, a friend and fan of The Dreadnoughts who sadly passed away in a car crash.
My own personal top choice from this album is now up to bat, “Turbo Island”. “Turbo Island” refers to a lesser known vagrant hangout in Bristol, England where, as the song states, “Cider’s always ace!” Albeit a cover song, once the Dreadnoughts put their own personal spin on it, you know it is going to be something to behold.
As the album progresses, this musical ship sets sail with “Black Sea Gale” and roams the high seas with “Clavdia’s Waltz”. Reaching the shore and pillaging the land with, “Paulina” and “West Country Man”. After the storm subsides, rest assured no bottle will be left filled and no wench unsatisfied.
The album concludes with, “Sleep Is For The Weak” and “Za Smierc Przyjaciela”. The latter being Polish for “Death of a Friend”. A somber end to yet another successful Dreadnoughts album.
Cyder punks, there is no better time to unite then now! Once you hear this album, I am sure you’ll agree. See you on the front line…