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The Elders

Racing the Tide

(Pub Tone Records; US: 30 Jan 2007; UK: Available as import)

When people think of Celtic rock, they often think of the Waterboys or the Pogues. The Elders, with lead singer (and Irishman) Ian Bryne at the helm, bring to mind more of the former and far less of the latter. This group evokes the Levellers and Great Big Sea in some respects, especially during “Send a Prayer”, which has several Celtic instruments in it. Meanwhile, “Bad Irish Boy” is Celtic pop, a mid-tempo and radio-friendly ditty that is quite mainstream and safe. The Elders are content to keep things rather light in terms of the barnstorming, hell-raising quotient, especially during “Dear God”, which features fiddles, accordions, and whistles. The lone exception (and even this is a stretch) that revs things up is the chugging “Cousin Charlie”. The group also can churn out a decent ballad-ish piece with the swaying “Right With the World”. One of the highlights is the tight and catchy “Banshee Cry”, which thakfully has no banshees crying. This is quickly followed-up with the delightful Flogging Molly-lite “Gonna Take a Miracle”. And the high-octane momentum and verve continues during the beer-spilling “Story of a Fish”. The second half finds the Elders in a far better mind than the first half—and a faster, catchy and finely tuned mind at that.

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Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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