Review: Come Aboard

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Alaskan Pirate
www.alaskanpirate.com

Genre: Crusty pup shanty styled orignial compositions.
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Late teens to early retirement

With their album “Come Aboard,” The Alaskan Pirate and His Salty Seamen bring the listener a variety of traditional and original compositions, although most of us would be hard pressed to say which is which. Indeed, every track on this album, be it ancient or freshly written, sounds like it’s been sung by seagoing lads for generations. And what’s more, not one single track sounds even remotely “folkish.” These aren’t sea shanties as sung by an armchair sailor or children’s sing-a-long – not remotely. Rather, this is music as sung by the saltiest amongst us – those who’ve been to sea, had their fingers frozen to the oars and watched their mates get hauled below by tentacled creatures of the deep. The compositions are simple yet bold, the vocals crusty yet listenable. If Quint from the movie Jaws had a band, it would sound a lot like The Alaskan Pirate and His Salty Seamen. Continue reading

Review: Kings of the Sea

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Skeleton Crew Pirate Band
www.malloryandmccall.com

Genre: Traditional-styled sea and pirate shanteys, but with some deviation and unique character
Rating: PG
Target Audience: All Ages

The problem with period music is it sometimes leans towards the dry side. And while non-period music is often more fun, it generally clashes with any sort of authenticity (a problem at times, certainly.) But with their new album “Kings of the Sea,” The Skeleton Crew Pirate Band manages to straddle that difficult line and create an album that’s fun to listen to, while still lending itself to a period feel. I use the words “period feel” carefully, as not all of these songs are actually authentic. Many, in fact, are culled from a wide variety of movie favorites – Muppet Treasure Island, The Pirates of Penzance, Treasure Island, and Pirates of the Caribbean all lend tunes and lyrics to this album. But while the sources may be modern, the vocals and instruments throughout carry a traditional piratey air, only deviating a bit with some non-traditional vocal styles now and again. And indeed, many of the other songs truly are period (William Kidd, Pirate’s Love Song, and Henry Martin, for example) although they too feature some artistic liscence with styling (and more power to them!) Continue reading

Review: There is a Ship

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
3 Pints Gone
www.3pintsgone.com

Genre: Traditional and traditional-inspired
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown Ups

When I was little I used to watch low-budget cartoons from Japan. I remember one with three robots. These robots could combine to make a larger, mega robot. But the trick was, they could do it in any order. When the yellow robot was the head, it created a robot with different strengths and weaknesses than if the red or blue robot was the head – each of whom carried their own unique talents to the equation. And so it is with 3 Pints gone, a renaissance/maritime band that frequently shifts lead singers throughout their album “There is a Ship.” Continue reading

Review: Rogue’s Gallery

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Various Artists
www.anti.com

Genre: Traditional and traditional-inspired
Rating: Mostly PG, but some songs are very, very R (and then some)
Target Audience: Adult

As the story goes, Johnny Depp and Gore Verbanski were so psyched about their recent Pirates of the Caribbean work that they decided to embark on a pirate project of their own. They co-produced Rogue’s Gallery, a two-disc album of 43 traditional sea-shanties as interpreted by a large and varied group of distinctly non-shanty artists. A bold proposition, to say the least, and one that could result in genius or catastrophe. Continue reading

Review: Got Booty?

Rating: ★★½☆☆
The Budd Bay Buccaneers
http://buddbaybuccaneers.com/

Genre: Traditional and traditional inspired sea shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: All ages

Keepin’ it real on the high seas yar.

Sea shanties and pirate music come in many forms – some belong in the concert hall, some at a rock show, and others – true to their roots – belong in a crowded pub full of drunken sailors swinging their mugs in rough rhythm. Continue reading

Review: Lost at Sea

Rating: ★★★★☆
Bounding Main
www.boundingmain.com

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Genre: Traditional and traditional inspired sea shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown ups, mostly

By and large, pirate music comes in two forms, the first being historical. These songs are normally performed by bands of reenactors focusing on sea shantys and drinking songs. Generally speaking, these bands are most appreciated by those who have experienced them live, and who wish to recapture the fun of swinging their grog around amongst a group of friends (I am, of course, painting with a broad brush.) The second form that pirate music often takes would be “pirate core” – music of a more modern nature that focuses on piracy as its theme. Be it pop, rock, metal, or punk, this music is sometimes more polished, and generally more accessible to fans of mainstream music (but perhaps uninteresting or even off-putting to traditionalists.) Continue reading

Review: Maiden Voyage

Rating: ★★★½☆
Bounding Main
www.boundingmain.com

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Genre: Traditional and traditional inspired sea shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown ups, mostly

When I think of sea shanties, I generally imagine them as performed by folk singers (i.e. musicians performing fairly down-to-earth, no frills songs recapturing the music of old.) I DON’T generally imagine sea shanties as performed by recording artists (i.e. musicians that seek not only to master the art of music, but the science of utilizing modern studio techniques to maximize the impact of the final product.) It was in this way that Bounding Main caught me completely by surprise. Indeed, I’d previously heard them live a couple of times, and already knew them to be fine performers. But upon playing their CD I was caught completely off guard. Continue reading

Review: Billy Bones and Other Ditties

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Skip Henderson
www.skiphenderson.com

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Genre: Traditional and traditional inspired sea shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown ups, mostly

Skip Henderson’s “Billy Bones and Other Ditties” is one of the most aptly named albums of all time. Amongst the track listing is, as expected, the song “Billy Bones” – one of the greatest pirate songs I’ve ever heard. And the rest of the album is a bunch of ditties – some more entertaining than others, but few that really leave a mark. Continue reading

Review: Pirate Songs

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Mary Malloy & Stuart M. Frank

Genre: Genuine traditional pirate shanteys.
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grown ups, mostly

Buy it now from Billy Bones’ Pirate Locker!

If you want to give a try to a more traditional style of pirate music, then this is for you. These are very traditional sounding sea-songs, all having to do with piracy. Not only are the songs authentic, but the voices that sing them also feel very real – not all studio polished and Britney Spearsish, but like real, sea-going folk. It’s fun, but generally something I can only take in small doses. One song does stand out, however – “Bold Trinity” is truly a haunting song, and sure to enrage cabin boys everywhere.