Music review: The Devil or the Barrel

Reviewed by John Smith

TLB-DOB-cover-webThe latest album from Celtic rock band The Langer’s Ball shows that this Twin Cities five-piece isn’t scared to take sides in that age-old dilemma “The Devil or the Barrel.” And the side they take is pretty clear. Want a hint? It’s the barrel. The International Whiskey Association (if they existed) would have no choice but to give this album the coveted Whiskey-Themed Album of the Year award (if it existed). In fact, if someone would have bet me $100 that any band could successfully include the word “whiskey” in an album this many times, that’d be $100 I’d never see again. The Kickstarter-funded album blends slightly re-imagined traditional Celtic pub favorites with some totally original takes on traditional music destined to become pub favorites. While the album itself is as a matter of fact a revamping of classics, the scarcer picks are truly what make this album worth owning. For instance: the clever “Whiskey Chaser” with the instant-classic chorus: “I used to chase the women, but they left me in a lurch/Then I chased salvation but just ended up in church/Chasing fame and fortune, I got caught up by the fuzz/Now I’m chasing whiskey and I always catch my buzz.”

While it’s only natural to compare The Langer’s Ball with other well-known American Celtic-punk bands like Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphy’s, The Langer’s Ball belongs in a much tamer category; a category where accordions replace bagpipes and step-dancing replaces moshing. It feels more traditional, just enough lilt to be convincing without overdoing it. This album transports you to the Emerald Isle in a grand new fashion. It takes you away to lush green fields and handsome redheads in green plaid. If you close your eyes you can easily drift away to a hazy, poorly-lit ale house, the band in the corner raising the crowd to a frenzy with an energetic whiskey anthem, then bringing the rowdiness down with a strong slow ballad. Ah man, and just when you were about to Lord of the Dance all over this place! No worries, with The Langer’s Ball you can be assured that there’s another foot-stomper coming up soon.

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