Filthy Thieving Bastards - I'm a Son of a Gun (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Filthy Thieving Bastards

I'm a Son of a Gun (2007)


In voluntarily reviewing music, it's a constant challenge to try and catch anything that might have slipped through the cracks. Hundreds of records are released each month, and they all (deservedly?) demand some press. Every week I'm assaulted by piles of CDs for radio and print, and yet the Filthy Thieving Bastards eluded me. So I decided to take matters into my own hands: If it doesn't come to me, I will go to it.

I'm a Son of a Gun cleverly follows My Pappy Was a Pistol both musically and thematically. The band of 3/5 Swingin' Utters exhibits a seamless integration of classic punk rock, folk, Celtic, rock‘n'roll, and western formulas. Unfortunately, musician extraordinaire Darius Koski doesn't spend as much time dabbling in unique auxiliary instruments like organ, accordian, and viola as earlier work, yet I'm a Son of a Gun remains a well-composed and expertly executed work of art (plus Koski does play piano, violin, and several different guitars).

Basically, if you don't like the Filthy Thieving Bastards, you can just shut yer trap, because there's probably something wrong with you anyway. I'm a Son of a Gun is comprised of a variety of styles that have crept into the punk realm, all of which merge flawlessly with help from veteran songwriting and wonderful musicianship. Several Celtic-punk mixtures appear in "When the Wallflowers Wilt" and "Phony Drunken Poet," which features a tin whistle and lead singer Johnny Bonnel's comforting voice spitting out lines like "On the last days of September / Winds were blowing down our blocks / Knocking down the dead old trees / Rocking ferries in their docks / Popped a Benny, drank some beers / Then pissed off the fucking pier / And cursed the God who made the winds / Of piss drenched shoes and socks." There is plenty of the classic street punk Bonnel's other band has perfected, like the ridiculously catchy "When We Were Kids" and "A Killing on Wall Street," which features some of Bonnel's lyrical street brilliance: "For fuck's sake it's just another day / So we can't complain / I propose another haunting toast to the losers slain / And I propose another daunting roast to the winner's gain." Songs like "Dusty Roads" and "Oh, Sweet Misery" demonstrate the band's mastery of more folk-influenced stylings, the latter of which sounds a bit like the Utters' masterpiece "Promise to Distinction."

I'm a Son of a Gun is simply another essential record from a criminally underrated band. If you've heard the Filthy Thieving Bastards before, you know what to expect. If you haven't, this is a perfect place to start.