Album review: The Bar Stool Preachers - Grazie Governo
The Bar Stool Preachers are a band you might not have heard of yet, but it probably won't be long before you do.
The six-piece from Brighton are one of the hardest-working bands on the live circuit today, playing hundreds of gigs a year at home and abroad.
Their heart-on-the-sleeve mix of politically and socially-conscious street punk and ska appeals to a wide range of people, but you get the feeling they haven't got out of second gear yet.
After loving their debut album Blatant Propaganda - reviewed here - I was worried they wouldn't be able to maintain such a high standard.
My fears were entirely without foundation, as this second album ups the ante - and then some.
Their record company, Pirates Press, obviously believes in them big-time, as it's backed this release with an impressive promotional campaign.
It has seen thousands of flexi-discs given away at gigs, at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool earlier this month, where they played a superb Friday night headlining set, and in the latest issue of Vive Le Rock magazine.
Their working class anthems are wonderfully infectious, and could certainly have breakout appeal to a wider audience.
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The album opens with the title track (Italian for 'Thank you government', and it's a jaunty slice of ska-punk which lays their cards on the table from the start.
8.6 Days (All The Broken Hearts) is a love song unlike any you've heard before, and possibly the standout track of the 13 here.
War Chief is a call to arms for the disaffected ("I can lead you into battle, but I can't teach you how to run") - and, let's face it, there are plenty of folk feeling like that right now.
Choose My Friends is another top-notch upbeat tune, featuring guest vocals from Aimee Interrupter of LA ska-punks The Interrupters.
Race Through Berlin is another love song delivered BSP-style, addressing the lengths you'll go to see that special person in your life.
The pace slows towards the end with the reggae-inflected Since You, which features some of the band's beefiest-ever riffs, while the skanking High Horse is a gentle come-down from what's gone before.
The band are as tight as you'd expect from such a hard-gigging outfit, and catchy songs and a crisp production all add up to make Grazie Governo an album you'll want to listen to on repeat.
It might well be my album of the year, but catch The Bar Stool Preachers live if you can - they're even better than on record. 9/10.