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A comprehensive list of reviews and features can be read below, along with images from magazine pieces which you can click to enlarge.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by David Kidman in Fatea Magazine, December 2015:
Every once in a while comes a record from Ireland that stands out from the standard fare because it incorporates a cheeky and cheerful strand of weirdness that’s intrinsically Irish (no insult intended), allied to a healthy degree of entirely natural, innate musicianship. This album is one such, a real gem – and a killer to boot – from what sounds one of the strangest of Irish folk bands, one that to my infinite regret I’ve never encountered before. Self-styled Dublin folk miscreants Lynched involve the talents of brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, who, legend has it, formed their own “experimental folk-punk psychedelic duo” around a decade ago. Their uilleann pipes, whistle and guitar are now joined in the band by Radie Peat (concertina, bayan, whistle) and Cormac Mac Diarmada (fiddle, banjo). Together these musicians provide a full-bodied but not in any way overwrought sound with plenty of individuality to complement the sheer upfront energy of the singing.
Ian takes the majority of the leads, his delivery suitably gutsy, raw and strident with real character, but Radie also adds considerable weight to the proceedings with her very distinctive voice and her acutely-turned (and surprisingly doleful) Appalachian-style interpretation of the ballad of The Old Man From Over The Sea; here, the refrains are boosted by chilling supporting harmonies from the men, but in truth tight and well-coordinated vocal work (both harmonies and unison) are a hallmark of Lynched arrangements generally. Radie coaxes an unusually powerful, at times almost unearthly tone from her concertina, and even more sepulchral is the drone of the bayan (a large bass accordion of Russian origin). There’s some magnificent interplay between fiddle and concertina on the pair of old-time tunes that forms the vigorous (and unexpected) coda to The Old Man. I like the way that Lynched feel they can take their time over their music, and their respect of, and commitment to their chosen material disarmingly overrides any potential listener concerns regarding the refreshingly unhurried sense of pace they adopt for the ballads especially. The album’s balance is around equally divided between traditional and newly-composed songs, and each category can be judged well served by the originality and unerring conviction of the band’s enterprising treatments.
Of the contemporary selections, I’d readily single out Drinking Song From The Tomb, a deliriously sinister jig-like setting of part of a short story by cult author H.P. Lovecraft, and what might seem to be its companion-piece, Lullaby, whose brooding and demeanour and ominous half-heard whisperings demeanour seem to betoken alarming visions and insights bestowed on mankind during sleep. I was reminded here of the nightmare world of the ISB’s Swift As The Wind, and by uncannily swift coincidence the very next track turns out to be a deeply thoughtful, uncommonly tender cover of Robin Williamson’s prescient Cold Days Of February pared right down with only Daragh’s own stark but inventive solo guitar for accompaniment. The other side to the Lynched coin is a total contrast: a decidedly whimsical eccentricity (rather recalling Dr Strangely Strange, especially on the catchy title song), coupled with a pronounced penchant for semi-nonsense comic or music-hall numbers like Daffodil Mulligan and Father Had A Knife, which, occurring as they do primarily in the early stages of the disc, may give a slightly misleading initial impression of the band’s predilections. Having said that, along the way they also treat us to a welcomely sensible rendition of the rousing Cork street song Salonika, while at the end of the day it’s fitting that the disc should close on Love Is Kind, an extended anthem-cum-shanty culled from the singing of Robin Roberts (a song-collecting colleague of Alan Lomax). Which is but one of the fascinating background facts we learn from the informative booklet notes (quality not altogether unexpected, given that Ian has a folklore masters degree and works in the Irish Traditional Music Archive).
So, if committed, atmospheric, wyrd and yes, at times slightly oddball or addled performance of folk music (not just Irish in origin, but with its roots and branches in other British traditions) is your thing, you really couldn’t spend close on 70 minutes (for that’s the glorious length of this disc) in better musical company than with this inordinately fine Lynched CD. And then afterwards, while you’re at it, go check out their spellbinding and passionate YouTube performance of Rosie Reilly, which is both intensely beautiful and something really, really special.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Tim Readman in Penguin Eggs magazine, Spring 2015:
Lynched have unleashed a rough and ready album of traditional Irish songs (and their close cousins) that hits you like a shot in the arm. It evokes memories of The Dubliners and The Pogues. The songs are delivered fresh and raw in nasal Dublin accentswith basic and rightly sparse accompaniment from fiddle, whistle, pipes, squeeze box, and guitar. In an era populated with schooled musicians delivering meticulous recordings, it is refreshing to hear a band getting back to basics so successfully. The singing is heartfelt, evocative, and gets the tale accross in no uncertain fashion. In case you need reminding, it’s supposed to be folk music. So let’s have more spit, less polish, and more of the likes of Lynched.
Four for ’14 feature by Tim Chipping in fRoots magazine, October 2014:
It starts with the slow drone of a concertina, joined by an accent as broad as the Liffey and loud enough to be heard over a bar din. Then a sorrowful harmony, restrained guitar, uilleann pipes, building in gusto and speed. “And I want to lie down!” they sing as if their drinks depended on it. The song is Henry My Son, described in the meticulous accompanying booklet as a unique and inelegant variant of the widely found ballad.
The album is Cold Old Fire by Lynched, the Dublinest band you’ve heard since… well. Dare we say it?
It’s rare, but sometimes you can interview an artist and what they say can change how you hear their music. And a band you’d previously been benignly indifferent to can become an obsession.
Ian Lynch, founding member of this proudly traditional quartet, leaves you in no doubt that his band know exactly what they’re doing. What follows is an example of how to say all the right things about everything.
“My family had a very strong singing tradition but it wouldn’t be traditional music as such. Any Christmas party or gathering you’d be two cans in and everyone would be singing their heart out. And that’s the way it still is. You’d hear the odd ballad but it was a mixture of everything really.”
“When I was eighteen I moved to London for a couple of years and I got really into Planxty. This was before they’d gotten back together so all I knew was they were this band from the ’70s. A friend of mine got the record and I thought it was one of the greatest things I ever heard.”
“We started playing as Lynched around the year 2000, just myself and my brother Daragh. We wrote a load of songs, kind of as a joke at the beginning. We caught on in the punk scene which we were heavily involved with at the time. We made about 300 copies of a CD and somehow it got us the mileage to carry on for another ten years without doing anything else.”
“But as that was going on our interest in traditional music was growing all the time and we began to take that seriously. We met a few musicians around Dublin, on the session scene, and before we knew it we had a load of new material and a band with four members.”
“There was, and still is, a pub in Dublin called The Cobblestones. And they would have sessions on there every night of the week. We play a lot in there now ourselves but I used to live across the road and I’d go in and hear the music. At that stage I would’ve been more into the songs than the tunes. I think it was the same story for my brother.”
“The other two musicians in the band, Radie Peat and Cormac Mac Diarmada grew up in very traditional families. They’ve been playing since they were five years old – Radie on the concertina and Cormac on the fiddle. They came from a very different angle but we both ended up in the same place.”
“I spend a lot of time listening to what you’d call in England ‘source singers’ – older traditional singers. And I think there’s a certain earthiness and tone to the singing, even the approach to the songs you don’t hear in modern singers. But I was at a traditional music festival once, and we were singing a few songs, and there was another guy there from Dublin and he said, ‘Oh are you gonna sing another one in a Dublin accent?’ And I was like, ‘obviously!’ The way we sing is the way we sing. It’s the way we always have done.”
“I’m aware there are a lot of people in Dublin listening to our album who wouldn’t normally go out and buy a traditional music LP. And so in the notes for each song there’s some other lead you can look up if you’re so inclined. It kind of comes naturally because if I’m learning a song I’m gonna go and find out as much as I can about it (all of us in the band would be constantly learning new songs.) So I had most of that information to hand but I went into the Irish Traditional Music Archive here in Dublin to find out a bit more. I’ve always been mad keen into booklets as well.”
And that’s Lynched. A new obsession.
Feature by Dara McHugh in Look Left magazine, October 2014:
Described by one reviewer as “the only folk album that has excited me in quite a long time”, Cold Old Fire is a unique and thrilling contribution to Irish folk by Dublin band Lynched. Named for the Lynch brothers, Ian and Daragh, the band had unlikely origins: it was started to express the brothers’ love for anti-authoritarian politics and David Bowie.
As Daragh explains: “We started out as a kind of a joke band around 2001 with myself on a bodgey acoustic guitar and Ian on tin whistle, playing silly songs about being a punk, drinking, hating the police and the government, as well as championing the cause of anarchy and glam-rock. Strangely, we began getting asked to play at punk gigs, which often involved some bits of pantomime, like throwing little envelopes with messages in them into the audience, or packets of crisps that we’d robbed.”
This ‘joke band’ toured across three continents, travelling from Canada to Mexico in one go, as well as playing across Europe and Australia. As time went on, their interest and abilities in traditional music developed, with Ian learning the Uilleann Pipes and Daragh developing his guitar skills. As Ian explains, trad “is something that we have always been interested in,” but “we got more and more obsessed with it as the years went on. Traditional song to me always seemed to me to be more open, more honest and in some way more punk than punk itself. It has always seemed to me that anonymously composed songs passed down by generations, not for money or fame, but out of a pure resonance for what the song was expressing, were truly the ‘voice of the people’”. All aspects of the rich panorama of life can be found in these songs, which were largely composed, sung, and preserved within the lower classes.”
Daragh agrees with this assessment, saying: “Punk and folk are generally coming from the same place as far as I’m concerned – songs about peoples’ lives, usually learned and performed in a very DIY, community setting – just with different aesthetics.”
As they got work sessioning in Dublin pubs, the band expanded.
“We began attending our first regular sessions in the Thomas House [Thomas Street, Dublin], run by another infamous character, Fred Fortune. We met Cormac at these sessions, and Radie a couple of years later at the Sunday sessions we did in Sin É, so when we started recording some new demos we asked them to do a bit of backing vocals and instrumentation. This quickly resulted in us all getting quite excited and becoming a fully fledged 4-piece.”
Radie and Cormac came from the opposite direction to the Lynched brothers, having developed their skills in more formal, ‘militant purist’ settings.
The band’s unique style gave them a little more space to flex their creative muscles, “a definite softening of my trad ideals” as Radie says, what Cormac describes as “something that’s more expansive and weird, yet still rooted within the tradition”.
The band soon began recording together in the Irish Traditional Music Archive. With the help of Arts Council funding, these songs were the first step to the new album.
The album itself draws on a diversity of sources; as well as Irish trad, there are folk songs from England, Irish Traveller songs, a cover of a track from psychedelic folk group The Incredible String Band, and original compositions, including one based on the work of horror writer HP Lovecraft.
But perhaps the album’s standout track is the eponymous Cold Old Fire. Co-written by Daragh Lynch and Cian Lawless when the two were unemployed, “with nothing but regular trips to the Navan Road Social Welfare office and Fred Fortune’s Sunday evening Thomas House sessions to sustain us,” the track has strong political overtones. Ian points out that “economic strife and emigration as themes are one of the fixtures of traditional song. Some of the songs that were written in the last 200 years or so could easily be written now, save for some linguistic differences.”
They may be some way from glam-rock and anarchy, but Lynched bring a unique energy, wit and talent to trad music.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Michael Quinn in Songlines magazine, October 2014:
‘Mob-handed miscreants give Irish folk a Poguesian drubbing’
Much has been happening on Ireland’s live circuit in recent years, with the emergence of new names trying new ways of approaching a perpetually re-worked tradition. One of the freshest and finest bands thrown up by the Irish capital’s vibrant Traveller-accented scene are the self-styled ‘Dublin folk miscreants’ Lynched. Originally a folk-punk duo formed in the early 2000s, consisting of brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Lynched make a stylish debut on disc with Cold Old Fire. After a decade of changing line-ups and charged live performances they have settled now into an altogether fabulous foursome with the addition of Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat. Lynched are a formidably accomlished force to be reckoned with.
There’s something marvellously audacious about the energising back-to-basics simplicity on display here. Faultless four-part vocal harmonies weave through arrangements for uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordian, fiddle and guitar to chilling effect on the Incredible String Band cover ‘Cold days of February’ and deliriously so on the knockabout ‘Daffodil Mulligan’. Daragh Lynch’s gravel-encrusted vocals channel the ghost of Ronnie Drew in ‘Father had a Knife’. There’s a dark poetic thread here too, in the hypnotic English ballad ‘The Old Man From over the Sea’ and the righteous anger of the title track. Re-minting the rough-hewn vivacity of the Dubliners in their youthful pomp, the street-ballad heritage of Frank Harte and the folk music urgency of Planxty, Cold Old Fire is a sure contender for any Irish album of the year lists.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Daniel Neely at Irish Echo newspaper, 24th – 30th September 2014:
‘Lynched have directness of punk’
Brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch formed the band Lynched in the early 21st century as an “experimental- psychedelic-folkpunk- duo.” The first results were rough, and perhaps not for everybody. However, over time, the group evolved and, relatively recently, added Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat to their lineup. This current incarnation, which features powerful solo and harmony singing supported by uilleann pipes, fiddle and bayan (a Russian accordion), has produced “Cold Old Fire,” an outstanding album of vocal music that merits widespread attention.
The first thing that struck me is the lovely song choices. For example, their version of “Salonika” (credited to the great Jimmy Crowley) is handled extremely well, as is “Henry My Son,” the popular old song that Francis J. Child famously collected and Frank Harte recorded. Lynched bring a fresh voice to these songs; they are spirited and entertaining, and are great representations of how any singer might best handle “traditional” repertory.
However, it’s the group’s spirit that really draws the listener in. Take “Daffodil Mulligan,” a music-hall song written by Harry Donovan and popularized by Jimmy O’Dea in the late 1930s, that tells the story of “Daffy,” the daughter of Biddy Mulligan (about whom [again!] Frank Harte sang in iconic version). Lynched gives this song – and indeed, all the songs on the album – great life. Its strong swing and sometimes loose phrasing brilliantly conveys the sense of humor Donovan clearly intended it to have. It’s just well done and fun to listen to.
Peat takes the vocal lead on “Old Man From Over the Sea,” a long, reflective song of courtship that the band brilliantly notes is “by far the most grotesque song on that theme that we have ever come across.” They follow the song with a couple of tunes from the old time American repertoire. The choice of version is part of what makes this one of the album’s outstanding tracks (it really does contain some rather choice lines), but more important, I think, is Peat’s powerful voice and disengaged delivery, which doesn’t pander to the song’s narrative and is perfectly suited to the arrangement.
One of the album’s most powerful tracks (and one that is so good, I wouldn’t be surprised if it finds a life of its own outside the band) is “Cold Old Fire,” a moving and incisive song that appears to be a meditation on post-Tiger economic hardship. Lynched wrote it with Cian Lawless when Lawless “was living under Daragh’s stairs.” (Based on the “punk rock” narrative that is generally attached to Lynched’s press, I take this literally – he was living under a stairwell in the house.) It’s really well crafted and an absolute standout. Speaking of “punk,” this is not a “punk rock” album. This is an acoustic album with no electric guitars, no drums (save for kind of a ceili band-type snare on one) and no shouting. What it does share with “punk” is a directness and a kind of ideological compass that gives their music direction. (You can sense this direction in the album’s track notes.) So, while “Cold Old Fire” will likely speak to fans of Christy Moore and Planxty, it may also speak to fans of punk groups like Crass and Chumbawamba (who, in fact, did an album in 1988 called “English Rebel Songs 1381–1984”). They’ll all probably enjoy it for the same didactic reasons, although it’s the goodness of the music itself that will bring everyone to the table for a listen.
It is interesting to note that Danny Diamond, who is a member of Mórga and who recently released his solo debut “Fiddle Music” (both of which were very positively reviewed here), recorded this album. He has given Lynched a very live, “present” sound that I imagine represents the band well. (Incidentally, Diamond, who is the Field Recordings Officer for the Irish TraditionalMusic Archive in Dublin, met Ian Lynch after Lynch got a gig at the ITMA on completing his MLitt in Folklore at UCD. Lynch is an interesting guy; he’s also worked at Na Píobairí Uilleann and in UCD’s National Folklore Collection, which are experiences that he’s no doubt brought to bear on the music here.)
Ultimately, “Cold Old Fire” it’s an excellent, grown up album. Rather than treat songs with a sense of precious nostalgia, Lynched plays them with ownership and intent in a way that is both entertaining and respectful.
This is one to have!
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Steve Hunt at fRoots magazine, August/September 2014:
Lynched are also (partially) a band of brothers. Ian and Daragh Lynch started out as a folk-punk duo before their interest in traditional music drew them into the trad session scene, where they encountered Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat.
While the vocal style of We Banjo 3 veers towards the mid-Atlantic, the voice of Lynched is entirely Dublin. While you might detect echoes of Dominic Behan, Ciarán Bourke, Philip Chevron or (especially to these ears) Johnny Moynihan, it’s entirely their own, too. Between them they play guitar, uilleann pipes, fiddle, concertina and whistles, on songs sourced from traveller singers Mary Delaney & Mary Kate McDonagh, Frankie Armstrong, Frank Harte and (song and setdance guru) Jerry O’Reilly (among others) along with a couple of terrific originals, a Robin Williamson cover and one with lyrics by HP Lovecraft.
Whether tackling serious balladry in What Put The Blood?, darkly-humorous material like Father Had A Knife and Salonika or the music-hall of Daffodil Mulligan, Lynched never over-play anything. Rather, their musicianship is unerringly deployed – via the captivating harmonies (of Radie & Daragh) and fiddle-drone of Tri-Coloured House, the unexpected upwards gear-shift in Henry My Son or the old-time fiddle tunes that sustain the extraordinary atmosphere of The Old Man From Over The Sea – to navigate the listener directly to the guts of whatever song they’re performing.
If all revival folk music records are an attempt to create something original from a synthesis of the academic and instinctive, then few performers ever realise the trick as fully as Lynched have on this passionate, utterly engrossing album. Recorded at the Irish Traditional Music Archive with the assistance of an Arts Council 2013 Des Recording Award, this comes with some serious credentials and is, without any doubt, my favourite Irish record in many years.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Tony Lawless at TradConnect.com, June 2014:
Folk music can still be innovative and exciting as shown by this debut from Dublin band Lynched. A variety of styles and influences have collided on Cold Old Fire to make it the most exciting album of traditional Irish song in decades. It’s the raw, punk injected delivery of some traditional songs that make Lynched such a potent force. Their sharp nasal Dublin accents are somehow ingrained with an incredibly authentic and new sound that hasn’t been heard since the Dubliners or Pogues burst onto the scene. They bring a fresh new expression to this form of urban folk with sparse accompaniment further amplifying and propelling their vocals along.
The band comprises brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Cormac Mac Diarmada, Radie Peat and Daire Garvin. Brilliant harmonies on tracks like The Tri-Coloured House are a strong feature of the approach taken. However it’s the harsh and cutting words and delivery on tracks like Henry My Son and Cold Old Fire that define the sound and the album. For any act, established or not, to include a number of tracks on a debut that stretch to 6-9 minutes is brave. Revel in the sprawling final track Love is Kind which shows that love songs don’t have to be soft and sweet. Here we are on a different vocal trajectory. Brilliantly conceived and authentically delivered it has a fresh, raw and stark feeling from first track to last. It’s the best modern folk album that I have heard of late and is the only folk album that has excited me in quite a long time. It’s that good.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire’ by Rod Stradling at Musical Traditions, June 2014:
I was very much in two minds about this CD when I first opened the padded bag: a folded card sleeve of a sort I’d never seen before; a drawing of a dark lady on the front and of a wizard-like face on the back (neither of which seem to have a lot to do with the songs, as I found when listening to them). The press release started well, mentioning ‘classic ballads from the traveller tradition’ – but then the dread words ‘folk-punk’ came up, so I skimmed for a bit ’til I found ‘Irish Traditional Music Archive’ … so I though I’d have a look at the booklet notes. Here I found Father had a Knife from Jasper Smith, and What Put the Blood? from Mary Delaney, even mentioning the MT Records CD on which it was found … so I thought I really had better stop reading and play the CD. I did, and found a four-piece group from Dublin, who appear to relish their roots.
My first thought was (in the tenth year since our founder’s death) “Keith would have loved this!” Here’s a bit of track 2, Daffodil Mulligan, and I think you’ll see what I mean. As you may guess, this was written by Harry Donovan and concerns the daughter of Biddy – another Donovan composition. This sort of treatment carries on up to, and including, track 8, The Tri-Coloured House, a Traveller version of An Acre of Land from Mary Kate McDonagh, then settled in Leitrim – lovely!
At which point things change. Gone is the smile on the face, the rough Dub approach … and the traditional songs, for the most part. Lullaby is a strange, atmospheric instrumental, followed by an old Incredible String Band song, followed by one they wrote themselves, Cold Old Fire. This is a fine song, and contains the wonderful characterisation of the Dole Office as “the button factory”. The final track is a sad farewell song from a clipper ship sailor retired to Massachusetts.
There’s plenty to admire in this ‘final third’ of the CD – but it’s nothing like so enjoyable, to me, at least, as the first two thirds were. I should explain that the group’s name come from the fact that the originating ‘folk-punk duo’ were Ian and Daragh Lynch, and that it was Ian who worked at ITMA. This may help to explain the quality and depth of research found in the booklet notes – an excellent piece of work.
Lynched is a traditional irish group from Dublin, Ireland, started by brothers Ian and Darragh Lynch as a folk punk duo in the early 2000’s, they have recently added the masterful playing of Radie Peat and Cormac MacDiarmada. Their new album, Cold Old Fire, seamlessly weaves together a punk energy, slow boil neo-folk darkness and plenty of real old time Dublin street grit into one beautiful whole. It’s rare to see musicians in traditional music who can shred through tunes with the elegance of people steeped in Irish culture, but who aren’t afraid to leave some bad notes in there, if it means keeping the energy of a good take. This isn’t plastic Irish music with purple button ups and hair gel, Lynched is the CRASS patch on Paul Brady’s shiny pants. My personal favorites on the album are “The Old Man from Over the Sea” a disturbing english ballad sung by Radie, the Darragh’s chills-inducing cover of “Cold Days of February” by the Incredible String Band and “Cold Old Fire” penned by the mysterious Berlin songwriter (and occasional Lynched and Blackbird Raum co-collaborator) Cian Lawless.
Review of ‘Cold Old Fire‘ by Frank Flynn, Nov 2013:
There was a moment in the 60s when all the world was young and the Dubliners and Sweeney’s Men were in their prime and the Dublin ballad tradition was about the coolest thing in Christendom. But somehow it went all pear-shaped and the ballad tradition got overtaken by the crack-and-porther-black merchants and became a bye-word for naff.
And then of course there were the purist police who were deeply troubled with the very notion of a “tradition” within the confines of the Pale. Despite that being more of an ideological stance rather than one based on fact, the Dublin ballad tradition would find few champions there.
So to call Lynched a ballad group might be problematic in itself. But that’s what they are. And in being exactly that, they just might be one of the most important bands to come out of Dublin in years. They have taken that definition and made it relevant again.
Lynched have dug deep and found a rich and multi-faceted seam where traditional songs and urban ballads sit comfortably with the popular entertainments of the music hall. And Dublin being a port town was of course subject to all manner of foreign (now there’s a word to set the cats among the ideological pigeons!) influences.
Invoking the ghosts of Frank Harte, Luke Kelly and Jimmy O’Dea, Lynched take all these influences and present them with a youthful energy and a salty Dublin wit. And in throwing the odd traditional tune into the mix – they are all great traditional musicians too – they re-position the Dublin ballad tradition right back into the mainstream of the Irish Tradition.
Yes it is a mongrel tradition with a badass attitude. And Lynched offer no apologies. Well, it’s what we are after all!