The Tossers are one of the best bands you may have never heard of. Take my word for it and grab a copy of The Valley of the Shadow of Death, which was released in 2005 by Victory Records. This Celtic punk rock band from Chicago has punched out quality tunes since the early 90’s yet is not as well known as their Celtic counterparts Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.
This album is no different, as it starts off with a catchy tune called “Goodmornin’ Da.” This track sets the stage for the energy that pervades the album. But The Tossers also show their diversity in “The Crock of Gold,” which starts off slow and speeds up into yet another catchy, bouncy tune. The catchy melodies continue pretty much all the way up until the final track, “The Valley of the Shadow of Death.” This song is a slow mournful sounding track that finishes off the album rather nicely.
Unlike other popular Celtic punk bands, the Tossers prominently feature the mandolin. Songs like “Preab San Ol” proudly demonstrate frontman Tony Duggins’ mandolin majesty. The CD also prominently features the fiddle, which drives many of the melodies that The Tossers so perfectly integrate into their songs.
Instrumentally, The Tossers cling strongly to their ancestral roots. Every song on the CD presents that distinctly Irish dynamic. It helps that the band incorporates traditional instruments, such as the mandolin, tin whistle, and accordion. The band also features a banjo. All in all, they are a great collection of musicians. They really know their stuff and it shows. The Tossers are a good blend of traditional Irish and punk rock. They fall somewhere in the middle, which I find to be a pretty good medium. The Valley of the Shadow of Death blends the best of both the Celtic and punk worlds into one electric, melodious sound.
Lyrically, the album speaks to its Irish heritage. “Preab San Ol” is a traditional Irish drinking song. Half the song is in Irish (yes, they have their own language) and the other half is in English. References to The Tossers’ ancestral homeland can be found throughout the album in several songs such as “Goodmornin’ Da,” “The Crock of Gold” and “Out on the Road” among others.
And of course, The Tossers never shy away from the subject of alcohol, as one can tell by the title of the track “No Loot, No Booze, No Fun.” The subject is very much alluded to throughout the CD. They also have a couple songs of rebellion, which they also, not surprisingly, blame at least partially on the alcohol.
I had to order this CD off the Internet because I couldn’t find a copy in any stores. But it was worth the shipping cost to get my hands on this. If you’re interested in Irish music or punk rock, The Tossers are a good place to start. Or if you’re simply looking to expand your Celtic collection, give this album a look. And learn some Irish while you’re at it!