Written by Darcy Rumble of Uxbridge, Ontario
FOR FANS OF
THE REAL MCKENZIES
At first glance, punk rock and bagpipes may seem like two musical styles at extreme odds but, in the case of Flatfoot 56, they are not only complementary but apparently made for each other. It may be hard to imagine a wide audience getting stoked on bagpipes, or for that matter, seeing Celtic music lovers into hardcore and punk. Flatfoot 56 are among the few bands that find a way to blend the two (and amazingly bust out a gravel-voiced rendition of “Amazing Grace” that even your grandma would dig).
Flatfoot 56 are often described as “positive-natured hardcore-tinged Celtic punk.” These five bros from Chicago have been making music together for well over a decade. They’re natural storytellers, weaving tales of sailors and the working class, and every record is a boot-stomping, mandolin picking good time.
Odd Boat’s opener “Ty Cobb” is named after a famous Detroit baseball player and an example of such a storytelling song. A standout point on the album is the female guest vocals of indie pop artist Il Neige on “Penny.” Her high, clear vocals are an excellent contrast to (her husband) Tobin’s rough voice and gives more in-your-face tracks like “The Trap” even more of a punch.
This genre is so specific, you’d be hard pressed to find another Christian artist to reach such a niche audience. To some, the band may sound like high energy Irish pub songs, but Flatfoot uses their position to shine a light into so many music lovers’ lives.
“KPM” touches on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:37 as it says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be nay / always and never are mostly lies” during the slower, more ballad-like track.
“The Crippling” speaks about being careful with how we use our words, and being crippled by lies. The infectious repetition of “stand up and walk/walk with me” is sure to stick with you.
“A Voice” is a worshipful reflection of how we are walking in our spiritual journey: “And if we can’t walk in love / we’re a noisy little gong / and if we can’t walk in peace, we’ll forget about the least of these.” The song’s power builds with the music and is a seriously positive and reflective note to close out the album.
Front to back, Odd Boat is a high-energy blast of feel-good punk rock and pick slides mixed with bagpipes and mandolin-led melodies.
The hard-charged punk eases back at just the right moments to let softer acoustic and vocal parts some breathing room.
Flatfoot 56’s Odd Boat is packed with powerful storytelling and biblical truth in a truly unconventional, but undeniably catchy and fun package.