Reviews of Armistice Day:
This band is incredible. Great songwriting, great music, an absolutely superb band. The female vocals are really delicious and the lead male is rough and tough like a real songwriter should be. Really surprising quality from this ol' country to San Francisco band. Excellent traditional musicians and instrumentality with a BIG current social, political statement being made. This might well be the second coming of Joe Strummer...These guys are for real....a cross between the Waterboys and the Pogues, and the Clash, with a bit of Gillian Welch or something like that on the female side. With just a stroke of luck, this band could be huge! REALLY IMPRESSIVE! You should get this album ASAP. You will not be disappointed! A band this good comes along very infrequently.
McCrae’s Battalion is a Celtic rock band from San Francisco. The name of the band is that of a Scottish Battalion raised from volunteers in 1914. One could say that this four piece band is a rara avis. They have a Scottish heritage, but the bagpipes are not featured on their songs. Besides, they are not based in Scotland, but in California.
Fraser McGill (Lead Vocals, Guitars, Banjo, Harmonica), Kristen Vandling (Fiddle, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Vocals), Colin Hall (Bass, Guitar, Vocals) and Drew Mayo (Drums, Percussion, Vocals) have recorded 9 songs together with guest musicians Daíthí O’Keefe on Tin Whistle and Jim Wasco on Keyboards.
The band follows two different paths on the album. Some numbers could be defined as folk-rock, with a Keyboards and/or Harmonica sound: “Skara Brae”, “The Only One”, “No One Goes”... IMHO, the other approach is more appealing, since McCrae’s Battalion are able to create a distinctive sound based on Fiddle, Banjo, the odd Tin Whistle and an interesting style of playing bass and drums. The catchiest song could be “Billy McConnell”. The opening track “March of the Cameron Men” has a similar structure, but I would pick up “Wind That Shakes the Barley” as best song on the album, together with “Larimer Street” (lyrics by Utah Phillips). Another outstanding number is “Gator Waltz”.
The album digipack packaging has a great artwork and all the credits and information are provided. There is no booklet with lyrics, but the link to their website lyrics page is clearly mentioned.
The music of this band really reminds me of my youth. Sometimes punk, but sometimes I hear the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Knots Landing, inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge, here is a really good band is born. Instead of pressing on the accelerator, they sit rather have a fat exhaust back on it, sit back and relax. Really cool! Especially relaxing it is whenever Kristen puts aside the instruments and sing a duet. Unfortunately, a style means that few dare to use. The name stands for a Scottish athlete unit from the first World War, if I have understood correctly. The song "Billy McConnell" can be seen on the homepage Download free, listen to everyone else. My personal favorite is but "The Only One". It's still early in the year, but the album could be one of my personal favorites TOP-2014.
(Translated from German)
The McCrae's Battalion band, from San Francisco, is still in its youth, formed just two years ago, but they’re wasting no time with the release of their debut album. The four members of the group come from various backgrounds and each brings a special talent and influence. Together the music fuses several styles including Folk, Punk, and Traditional Irish music.
Fraser McGill leads the vocals and he also plays the banjo and adds harmonica to the rich texture. Kristen Vandling, the only female member of the group drives the folk presence with her additions of Fiddle, Mandolin, and Bouzouki. Colin Hall plays the Bass and Guitar while Drew Mayo specializes on the Drums and Auxiliary Percussion.
Across the small ensemble you see a wide variety of talents which mix together seamlessly. Additionally, the group orchestrates each song independently to showcase specific details in their music. You won’t hear Kristin playing the Bouzouki in every piece but when it’s there it really shines.
There were several artists that inspired the Battalion’s first album and these sources of inspiration stemmed from various musical backgrounds. The Pogues, Bob Dylan, and The Clash drove the rock and roll elements into the music of the Battalion with a punk twist.
Their music seems to resonate straight from Ireland and Scotland, where two band members emigrated from. The music drives forward with a passionate battle cry in pieces like "Billy McConnell" and "March of the Cameron Men" while also achieving softer, sweeter tones in songs like "The Only One" and "No One Goes". One of the group’s most notable strengths lies in their ability to create music that draws on different emotions while never losing the core of their sound and musical identity.
McCraes Battalion has all of the ingredients that are necessary to make a great album, and it comes together quite nicely. The band has delivered a decent debut album, Armistice Day, and it leaves much to be desired. Showing their potential and charisma as a group, their next album will certainly be one to look forward to, and also to see how the band evolves.
Angela Conway, writer for Irish Webzine Punk.ie
Picked up the album and I love it. Some great lyrics on there and solid arrangements. I also love the contrast of vocals on parts of it, particularly on 'The Only One'. My favourite drum track is 'Wind that Shakes the Barley" and my favourite lyric/sentiment is on "No one goes"(..."and our fleeces are not white"). I hear shades of Dylan, Velvet Underground, Shane MacGowan and the Popes, etc. All good! Hope the live recording for KALX goes well and best of luck in the future lads, fair play!
Liam Murphy, Musician, Dublin Ireland