20 Bulls Each - Lost Causes (Cover Artwork)

20 Bulls Each

Lost Causes (2006)


Perhaps we should be ashamed if the first thing we think of as Irish music is U2. And only U2. What else does the potato-eating, Leprechaun-toting, beer-soaked motherland have to offer musically? Traditional folk music? Indeed, I can boast two brothers donning shamrock tattoos in honor of their Celtic heritage. And as an Irishman, I still cannot come up with any Irish bands, let alone punk-related, beyond Bono and boys. Alright, alright, Sinead O'Connor, the Cranberries, Thin Lizzy and the Pogues call Ireland home. That still leaves a void where punk is concerned.

Enter 20 Bulls Each from Dublin. They spit out raw, bloody-knuckled punk rock. The song titles should offer an idea of what the 20 Bulls are all about: "Bow Down," "Fail," "Make Your Stand," "The Hard Way." Somewhere in their press sheet there's a nod to street punk. 20 Bulls Each sound much heavier and meaner than that, though. You do have a healthy dollop of melody as well as the speedy, two-step rhythms. Sometimes it all converges at once, as on the solid "Awol." They decry the "weekend-only life," where we (Irish, American, whoever in modern-day capitalist society) sacrifice five days for the enjoyment of two. "Icon" is another catchy cut of razor-tongued slashing punk.

Many songs thrive on call-and-response vocals, all in the grand oi tradition. You can hear the ghost of the Clash weaving through many of the songs, though it sounds more like Rancid or other likeminded heirs to the Clash's initial punk statement. "The Hard Ways" demonstrates this well, with a punchy catchy chorus and crowd-shouted lyrics on working class pride.

It's all good riotous fun, though 15 songs do seem a bit much to munch on at once. This is a dense record. Some songs run together and morph into one another as the album plays on. Some dieting would have done the band well in shedding some excess musical weight. Yet that doesn't diminish the impact of the stronger material found herein.