The Grinning Barretts – HLH EP (2022)

Describing themselves as a bagpipe strangling, vocal chord mangling, gormandizer uplifting Celtic punk rock band, The Grinning Barretts fuse gritty punk with Celtic magic. Born of a passion to create inimitable music, Pat Westmacott (vocals and guitar), Dave Grieg (vocals and guitar) Aaron Bergen (vocals, bagpipes and flutes), Nathan Stafford (bass and vocals), Alli Bean (vocals and keyboard) and Jeremy Fiddy (drums) hit you over the head with their unique songs (but in a good way). Featured on Edgar Allen Poets, London Celtic Punks, Rising Artists Music Blog and What’s Brewing, this five-piece is gaining notoriety on an international level. Come with us as we listen to their latest release, HLH EP.

The first release from this group since 2018, HLH is a four-track EP combining two traditional Irish songs with two original pieces. Opening with the title track, The Grinning Barretts immediately toss you into a whirlpool of kaleidoscopic sound. Jovial and uplifting in its grittiness, ‘Hope Like Hell’ is a toe-tapping tune bringing the brightness of pop to the melody; however, The Grinning Barretts prove they are anything but pop with well-placed screams and hard rock guitars meeting the Elton John-esque piano.

Following ‘Hope Like Hell’, The Grinning Barretts present ‘Star of the County Down’ and ’10 Teraohm’. A strong Celtic vibe is felt with the combination of bagpipes, pounding drums and dynamic guitars. A frenzied heart-pumping single, ’10 Teraohm’ is pure energy from the first second, while ‘Star of the County Down’ takes slightly longer to hit the frantic level. Either way, I foresee head-banging in a mosh pit from anyone who listens to the tracks.

Finally, we have ‘The Foggy Dew’. This final track may be my favourite of the EP as it showcases The Grinning Barretts’ versatility as musicians. Although brash and abrupt, the elegant movement from Alli Bean’s soothing keyboard to guitar-driven punk rock shows flexibility in genres. The incorporation of Bergen’s flute adds a softer Celtic vibe to the track while retaining the pounding drums in the background. Ending abruptly – I mean just stopping – is one of the more intriguing aspects of the album. The brutality is palpable as The Grinning Barretts step back and say “well, that’s it” at the sharp end.

For more from The Grinning Barretts check out their Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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