ALBUM REVIEW: The Bar Stool Preachers - Blatant Propaganda

This is the first album by young British ska-punk band The Bar Stool Preachers, and they've certainly set the bar high for future releases.
The Bar Stool Preachers - Blatant Propaganda (Pirates Press Records).The Bar Stool Preachers - Blatant Propaganda (Pirates Press Records).
The Bar Stool Preachers - Blatant Propaganda (Pirates Press Records).

With just one single, One Fool Down, under their belt, they have released one of the best debut records I've heard in a long while.

They blend the skanking style of The Beat with the attitude of The Clash, yet manage to sound modern and relevant at the same time, and it's a winning formula from start to finish.

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They only formed in Brighton in December 2014, but are already regarded as one of the brightest young bands on the punk/ska scene.

A couple of listens to Blatant Propaganda makes it clear why: it's full of good songs that will get you on your feet, and there's a strong social conscience message in there too.

Frontman TJ McFaull is the son of Colin McFaull, the singer with London streetpunk legends Cock Sparrer, and he's obviously a chip off the old block.

The 13 tracks here remind me in places of noughties ska-punk band The Dead 60s and London punkers The King Blues, but they're subtly different to both to merit a listen in their own right.

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Opener Trickledown is a fast-paced ska-tinged number, while the brass-infused Bar Stool Preacher is an ode to the kind of story-toting barflies who seem to inhabit every pub.

Clock Out, Tools Down, about living for the weekend, is the most Cock Sparrer-esque song on the album, complete with a Clash riff 'borrowed' from Remote Control and 'woah-oh' backing vocals.

The record is full of upbeat messages about bettering yourself, helping others, and not being ground down by the mundanity of life in a dead-end job.

It ends strongly with probably its best two songs. One Fool Down shows what good songwriters they are, even so early in their nascent career.

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With the lines: "Never look down on anyone, unless you're giving them a hand up, cos it can happen to any one of us, we live in and out of luck" they sum up everything that The Bar Stool Preachers are about.

And the closing Ballad (of the M1) is all about the problems and pitfalls of life on the road, travelling in a van from one gig to the next, but don't get the idea that they're complaining - they obviously love it.

If this is what The Bar Stool Preachers can come up with for their debut album, I can't wait to hear the second one. 8/10.