Mahones have had a horrible spate of luck over the past couple years.
In May 1999, their bassist Joe Chithalen died of an allergic food reaction
while the group was just beginning a tour of Europe. This followed on
the heels of another death only a month earlier; the passing of Greg
McConnell, a former bassist of the group due to a camping trip accident.
so much tragedy in such a short period of time, one can be excused for
speculating in the possibility that the band might not be able to survive
this double dose of tragedy. After a decent interval, the Mahones went
back to doing what they have always done best; giving a raucous live
performance that resonates of dizzying debauchery. The type that the
Mahones and their lyrics are traditionally known to produce. The arrival
of Here Comes Lucky shows that the gang has been able to get beyond
adversity and continue on creating music.
Mahones emerged on the music scene in 1990 playing pubs and bars with
their blend of celtic, punk and rock. They were likened to The Pogues
but lead singer and guitarist Fintan McConnell claims that the Mahones
are harder and punkier then they are [The Pogues]. Their songs
are more like ballads and stuff if you listen to it carefully." Their
first CD, Dragging the Days, released in 1994, achieved a moderate level
of success. 1996's Rise Again capitalized on their prior success but lead
to charges once again that they were mere copycats of the Pogues style
1999, The Mahones released The Hellfire Club Sessions in which they merged
as many different styles as possible. No one could no longer critique
the group for not attempting new styles. One could hear country and even
cabaret along with their rock and punk backbone. The fact that quasi-traditional
Celtic music was peaking at the moment when the Mahones released their
most different album goes to show that the Mahones always play the game
to their own rules. McConnell says the so-called "Celtic movement"
is what encouraged them to break their own mold. "The popularity
of Irish music makes me happy and bothers me at the same time. I'm very
happy for a group like Great Big Sea...On the other side of the coin,
I don't like over-saturation with 20 fiddle bands coming through."
Mahones need not to worry about over-saturation in their particular case.
Their unique style of harder edged celtic rock/punk is something that
is still not too common in Canada. There are any number of popular bands
that use many elements of celtic music as pillars in their formula. There
still is only one group; The Mahones, that are able to use it in their
extremely rambunctious and fierce style. The arrival of Here Comes Lucky
is; in a sense, a move back to their more familiar style of vigorous edged
celtic rock and punk from their experimental last album. Having said that,
there is the addition of some welcome new touches.
by The Skydigger's Ron Macey, the album shows signs of maturity that a
successful band has. Lead singer/guitarist Fintan McConnell can now add
proficient songwriter to his list of accomplishments. He constructed all
of the lyrics to the songs on the CD. Instead of covering celtic drinking
songs, The Mahones are now making their own distinctive form of music
with their own stamp. Gone are the days when a Mahones album was solely
loud, intense, machine-gun beat celtic laced music and lyrics. In Here
Comes Lucky, there are instrumentals and even a ballad. The last track
on the CD, "Looking at Life" is a soft accordion and tin whistle
instrumental that would not be out of place on a Rawlins Cross CD. The
addition of guests Mary Margaret O'Hara and Ian Thornley of Big Wreak
add another dimension to the increasingly layered output of the Mahones.
fans of the traditional hard edged Mahones sound, the track "The
Queen and Tequila" (named after an encounter with legendary Pogues
frontman, Shane McGowen) show that the Mahones can still rock/celtic/
punk hard with the best of them. The cover art of the CD; a picture of
a bull from the Running of the Bulls in Spain certainly catches the eye
as well. All in all, Here Comes Lucky gives both fans of the traditional
Mahone's sound and new listeners an opportunity to explore the musicality
of this unique Canadian group. In this case, the Mahones' luck has changed
and for the much better.