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Filthy Thieving Bastards | Melody of Retreads and Broken Quills | review | punk | rock | Lollipop

Filthy Thieving Bastards

A Melody of Retreads and Broken Quills (BYO)
by Grady Gadbow

This California Irish folk-ballad offshoot of Swingin' Utters is following a well-traveled rock road. Filthy Thieving Bastards' own promo sheet mentions The Pogues, as if to beat us critics to the punch and sure enough, some of these songs Pogue-out pretty hard (Christ, is he doing an impression of Shane MacGowen?). The same can be said of Swingin' Utters, for that matter, but they keep the Rat Pedal firmly stomped and have long been the Captains of California Irish punk rock. These Foul Stealing Bums have gone acoustic and brought in some ringers on the traditional Irish instruments for that old world twang.

Johnny Bonnel does most of the singing in kind of a subdued, lethargic sort of way that sounds as if he did it all sitting down on the stage of MTV Unplugged. The background's yee-hah! noises on "Wasting Away" do not convince me of the yee-hahher's rowdiness. At a few points along the way though, it seems he stands up and transports the whole band to a crowded bar where (as California Irishmen should know) everything sounds better.

The songs that work best seem to rely on guitar riffs akin to "Ghost Riders in the Sky" or chord progressions in A minor. Both are sure-fire old country techniques, but compared with Bonnel's snotty rocker voice, it all brings to mind the recent solo work of fellow California Irishman Mike Ness.

Oh yeah, I'll see the Dirty Pilfering Sons of Bitches if they come to town and play someplace nice, but they damn well better play standing up and their yee-hah man had better be on the level or I'll leave saying something 'bout the California Roll, the California Stop, and the goddamn California Irishmen.
(PO Box 67A64 Los Angeles, CA 90067)

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