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Blood or Whiskey - Cashed Out on Culture 
By Travis Becker

For decades now, Punk music and Irish music have been uncommonly effective, when blended together, in bringing the masses to their feet. Perhaps, it is the similarity in approach and attitude, neither willing to compromise raw emotion for widespread success, or it maybe it's just the shared fondness for getting piss-drunk and having an uninhibited, boot-stomping, elbow-throwing good time.  Ultimately, it's probably the same bond that draws Punk and Reggae music together at times, it's all rebel music.  The thrashing guitars and seductive tin whistles all echo the cries of the downtrodden fighting their way up the social food chain, music their only weapon, held in place of the broken bottle or the car bomb.  Blood or Whiskey, which calls Kildare and Dublin, Ireland home, brings a fresh blend of the two styles to what is beginning to be a crowded subgenre.  By incorporating a more traditional set of instruments and musical sensibility but not sacrificing one drop of sweat or swagger in their approach, Blood or Whiskey have the potential to establish themselves as one of the most unique punk outfits to assault a stage in some time.

In their third release, "Cashed Out on Culture", the band comes crashing through the pub door with an opening song that pounds the bar and demands a round for the whole place.  The band's sound is perfectly defined in that composition, "No Answers", and in the rock dictionary they'll be cross referenced with the Pogues first and foremost.  The music is filled with tin whistle, banjo, and accordion, which brings to mind instantly the Shane McGowan-led Irish Folk/Punk legends.  This is not to say that Blood or Whiskey is a cheap imitation of the Pogues or that they rank as highly in the Rock lexicon.  Blood or Whiskey recall classic Irish Punks, Stiff Little Fingers, in equal measure at times and the gruff vocals of Beano and Dugs Mullooly hauntingly echo those of SLF front man, Jake Burns, at times.  In terms of song writing, the band has a ways to go before equaling McGowan, but they play confidently and the songs accent the obvious musical cohesion of B or W, as is particularly evident on the instrumental, "Requiem for a King."  Songs like "Glory O'" and "Impaired Vision" could be brought to life by Mick Jones himself
and the latter bubbles over with subtle elements of Reggae that serve only to embrace the legacy of the Clash.

Blood or Whiskey has begun to carve out a niche in Punk that became a gaping void when the Pogues disbanded and that grew over and filled in with disuse when there were no bands, imbibed with the rebel spirit and the musical credentials to back it up, to fill it.  "Cashed Out on Culture is not a record of boisterous Boston-Irish Punk by way of the Dropkick Murphys (although the two groups have toured together) and it's far less straightforward than the Blues-Rock-infused rants of Flogging Molly.  This music at once boasts traditional sounds and an edge that would split the tightest liberty spikes straight down the middle.  It's the real deal through and through.  Mohawks and mandolins team up for another unlikely collaboration, through Blood or Whiskey, and they both come out better at the end.  B or W are welcome motivation for a circle pit or dancing a jig, and it's that universal appeal that should have punks up and dancing, hoisting pints of dark beer and kicking the ever-loving hell out of each other.  Just like back in '77, it was something of a rallying cry when Punk's demise seemed inevitable, but it seems appropriate for music that screams for people to rally around it and embrace the rebel spirit again.

CD Info 

Blood or Whiskey - Cashed Out on Culture
Label: Punkcore Records, 2005
No Answers
Doors Of Hope
Stuck Together
Poxy Pub
Requiem For A King
Glory O'
Jar'd For Life
Impaired Vision
Ruler Ruler
Holy Trinity, A
Shattered Dreams
Black Cross Of Crumlin, The
Deadwood & The Cash Deceiver
They Say No!
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