The Tossers – “Smash the Windows”


Straight from the South side of Chicago, the “world’s loudest folk band” is back with their ninth album, nearly an hour’s worth of celtic-punk tunes paying homage to the band’s  Irish roots and the Irish-American experience.

Hailing from Southside Chicago, the Tossers have been performing as a band since 1993, predating some of the other, more well-known celtic punk bands, like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  That being said, to their credit the Tossers have shared the stage with a plethora of great bands, including the likes of Mastadon, Sick of It All, the Pogues, and the obvious Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.  Interestingly, the Tossers were also granted the honor to play the Kennedy Center in May of 2016.  All in all, it’s a pretty good story for a band that got its start playing pubs in the south side of Chicago.  As a bit of trivia for the curious, the name comes from a slang term for British coins that became worthless when the southern Irish Free State won independence from Britian .  For Smash the Windows, their ninth full length and sixth on Victory Records, the band worked with longtime producer Andy Gerber at Million Yen Studio in Chicago.

The Tossers have certainly not scrimped on this album as it has 17 tracks and runs nearly an hour in length and to make things clear, every song is solid on this release.  To make things easier, there are several types of songs on the album: the upbeat, story-telling songs; the loud, raucous, pub singalongs, a couple instrumentals, and the slower, somewhat melancholy and bittersweet tracks that often have a more traditional celtic feel to them than the other tracks.

Songs like “Erin Go Bragh” which tells the tale of the Irish arriving in America kicks off the album and falls into my arbitrary category of upbeat, fast story-telling songs.  Also falling into this category would be songs like “The Horses”, “The Town Where I was Born”, and “Mairi’s Wedding”.  For those wondering about the sound, it’s fast Irish punk rock but played with primarily acoustic and traditional instruments, which explains how they earned the title the “loudest folk band”.  On all the tracks, Tony Duggins vocals have the necessary grit and tone to meld perfectly with the music and literally becomes exactly the voice you would expect to hear.  Musically, there are a wide variety of instruments providing a rich landscape of sound, everything from mandolin to guitar, to accordion to violin to more traditional instruments, all of which is supported by a strong bass and drum rhythm section.  Production and mixing are perfect, vocals are clear and strong, while every instrument can be clearly heard in the mix.

The Tossers are also very adept at slowing things down for songs that are more reflective becoming melancholic and bittersweet.  About halfway through the album, the first of such songs, “Resurrection Mary” kicks off a section of these songs followed by “Danny Boy” and “1969”.  These songs often convey some tragic stories and often emphasize the more traditional elements in the celtic sound.  Later in the album, the band again slows things down for a few more of these songs in “My Love” and the album closer “The Foggy Dew”, which is also an epically long seven minutes in length.  When I think of modern takes on traditional Irish music, songs like “The Foggy Dew” is what immediately comes to mind.  There is so much drama in the song, set up beautifully from the very beginning of the song.

Finally, the album also has its share of the incredibly catchy, loud and raucous “drinking” songs.  These are typically faster, brighter in tone, and containing sections where everyone will be shouting along.  “Smash the Windows” not only that part of the chorus but also some other “Fight, Fight” chant sections that will be sure to get crowds shouting.  Even the spoken intro to “Drinking All the Day” asks for crowd for participation and much of the song is one giant sing along.  “Whiskey” is another that could fall into this category and of course, “Fare You Well” being the next to last song even seems to be the perfect send off for the album.

Having grown up listening to the likes of the Clancy Brothers and having been to the Chicago South Side Irish Parade and given St. Patrick’s Day is on the horizon, the timing for the Tossers’ Smash the Windows couldn’t be better.  The band is in top form on this album providing a wide variety of different sounds that fall squarely into the celtic punk category and given their reliance on acoustic instruments, there should be considerable cross-over appeal for this album to those looking for the celtic punk without all noise that usually accompanies punk rock.

Rating: 9/10

Written by John Jackson

01. Erin Go Bragh
02. Smash The Windows
03. I Will Court Them All
04. Humors Of Chicago
05. Drinking All The Day
06. The Horses
07. Resurrection Mary
08. Danny Boy
09. 1969
10. Whiskey
11. The Town Where I Was Born
12. My Love
13. Mairi’s Wedding
14. Lots Of Drops Of Brandy
15. A Ghra Mo Chroi
16. Fare You Well
17. The Foggy Dew

Band Members:
T.Duggins – Vocals & Mandolin
Aaron Duggins – Whistle & Button Accordion
Emily Constantinou – Violin
Mike Pawula – Guitar
Peter Muschong – Bass
Bones – Drums

Record Label: Victory Records, March 2017

Weblinks: Facebook / Website / Twitter / Spotify

Video for ‘Smash the Windows’


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