FOLK THE SYSTEM
Folk The System ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ – album review
Written by Phil Newall at Louder Than War June, 2015
Folk The System ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ (Self Released)
‘The Wolds’ is a term used, here in England, to describe a range of low hills; peaceful, charming and full of character, images of which decorate chocolate boxes and the like…a term that invokes feelings of calm and tranquillity – there is nothing calm or tranquil about ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ the debut album from Banbury based Folk The System, this is a genuine fire-band release that combines snarling vocals, a frantic fiddle battling with pushed to the limit acoustic guitar, the entire shebang being held together by a hammered Bodhran and bass…
Initially formed in the early 1990’s Folk The Systems politically charged lyrics and energised live performances saw them gain supports with the likes of Citizen Fish and Blyth Power, tours across the country followed, but the lack of a plan, or more accurately a lack of restraint limited Folk The System to recording just two 4trk demo’s prior to their split in the late 90’s.
Raw Folk Punk From The Shires
The five piece Tony Partner (Guitar), Simon Hill (Vocal, Guitar, Tin Whistle), Maty Tustian (Bodhran, Drums, Vocals),John Tims (Fiddle, Mandolin), Johnny Fell (Bass) remained friends, so when in late 2013 Simon Hill bought a new 12 string and sent word to his troops that the music world needed another blast of Folk The System, no-one argued. The resulting ‘Unrest in the Wolds’ is a brand new recording bringing together the lost demos with some new and unreleased material; despite the years that have past the targets of Folk The Systems unrest remain firmly entrenched…
‘Witchfinder General’ with its lilting expansive opening initially throws you off balance, before Hill spits out “2, 3, 4” and delivers a measured rage taking aim at the state of UK Social Services, the recording, across the entire album is raw though don’t let that put you off…’Lost Land’ is a powerhouse of full on mayhem, this is not folk music, this is pure full frontal punk played upon savaged acoustic instruments, there is no respect for the nuances of a Bodhran – Maty Tustian just hits hit harder and faster! That’s not to suggest that Folk The System substitute song-writing ability with blistering pace; ‘Death Of A Nation’ is a wonderfully crafted song, a wall of sound and vitriolic “contempt and hate” whilst ‘Environmentally Friendly’ demands that you “open up your eyes and take a look around’ the song weaving between almost spoken word and a rage like thunder…the Bodhran powers on matching the power and passion that fiddle is igniting!!
‘Murphy’s Logic’ is possibly the most traditional ‘folk’ track, an instrumental, bar for the yelps that Hill throws in for good measure, the fiddle and tin whistle refrain would not be out of place amongst the beard stroking rows present at the Radio 2 Folk Awards, ‘Street Corner People’ borrows from The Adverts ‘Gary Gilmores Eyes’ – no bad thing particularly considering TV Smith’ own incendiary acoustic deliveries these days.
‘Folk The System’ have created a dangerously infectious album, yes it would benefit from decent production, but that’s not what they are about, ‘Unrest In The Wolds’ is a reaction to the times, a voice that needs to be heard above the din of spun politics, and the homogenised shite that occupies the radio channels, and for that reason I suggest you go and buy this album.
Unrest In The Wolds Album review by Jez Wicks
New album "Unrest in the Wolds" arrived today ... been waiting for a while for it to be ready, and not dissapointed ... Real old skool feel to it and plenty of ...power and passion included... Folk Punk with other underlying old genres running through... Thanks Maty Tustian and the Folk The System for this little beauty !!! Had to go straight on LOUD and will be played alot so luckily already on my laptop and phone for when the CD gets worn out .. Keep up the great work and hope to catch you live soon as ..
Something Else Somewhere Else Festival 10/05/2015 by Brian Stone
The firepit hardcore were still there when I headed back up to the stages around midday Sunday for the final day's staged music. There were a few treats waiting in store, the first being on the Barn stage where Folk The System had the unenviable job of playing mid-afternoon to a still hung-over crowd in what had been up until then the least popular venue. Well they soon changed all that. As word got around of a great act going on, more and more folk poured into the barn to hear the quality fast punky folk and the place was soon packed. I've seen this reformed 90s band a couple of times recently and this was by far the best they'd sounded. Despite the hour quite a few of us were dancing and I heard several people after the gig remarking on the 'new' band they'd heard. With their new album Unrest In The Wolds ready just in time for the festival they sold loads of copies on the day and I can thoroughly recommend it. Get it here!
Ragged Bear review by infieldmusic.com Friday 11th November.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with rowdy sets from Folk The System, Greenman Rising and Leatherat, downstairs at The Crew, which was heaving with fellow punters, all of us drunk on a heady cocktail of cider, folk music and carefree merriment.
Folk The System woke us all from our winter hibernation with a set full of lively, punk folk songs, sung and played with a rawness that only comes from skill and a passion for your craft. These were followed by Greenman Rising, a more traditional folk band who perform their songs with an undiluted umph that makes you want to stomp your feet. Leatherat were up next, headlining the Friday night warm up at The Crew. A band that are well known on the festival circuit, they brought the festival big top to Nuneaton on that gloomy Friday and ended the evening’s awesome live entertainment with their feisty hi-octane folk rock.
After the Friday night warm up, on a cold, rainy November evening, my cockles were well and truly warmed. I fell into bed that night a happy girl. Words and pictures by Hollie Latham
Review by Alan Fisher, Ferocious Dog Blog
I’ve been listening to the rather splendid album from Folk The System today. It’s called ‘Unrest in the Wolds’ which gives a clue that there’s a bit of anger in here – there’s protest in here, there’s anger – most of all though there’s some well-crafted tunes with the traditional folk sounds driving by the pounding bass heavy bodhran and layered with fiddle, acoustic guitar, mandolin bass and occasional penny whistle. It’s an infectious collection of ten songs that I’d heartily recommend getting hold of.
I’m certainly looking forward to getting the opportunity to see them perform live some time – the next opportunity on my planned list of gigs is the Bostin Days event in October but maybe fate will cast us together before then.
Review by Waldo Kinksmarkham, Celtic Folk Punk Blog
Folk the System are Simon (vocals, 12 string guitar, tin whistle), Tony (6 string guitar), Maty (bodhrán, vocals), John (fiddle, mandolin) and Jonnie (bass). They were formed in the early nineties and released a couple of 4 track demo tapes in 1993 and 1994. Sadly, they disbanded around 1996.
In late 2013 Simon bought a new 12 string guitar and told his bandmates that it was the right moment for a comeback. Almost 20 years have gone by and the lads from the Shires are increasing their fan base thanks to their shows at festivals, their cover of “What You Know” on the tribute to the Levellers album “Bostin’ Days” and, obviously, from their long-awaited debut album “Unrest in The Wolds”.
Folk The System have a bodhrán instead of drums, but don’t be misled by that: these guys really rock!!! “Unrest in the Wolds” kicks off with “Witchfinder”, a song whose lyrics can be filed with the Levellers “Social Insecurity”. The song begins slowly, but after a “two, three, four”, the frantic fiddle and bodhrán make you clear that this is folk-punk.
Track no. 2 is called “Civilisation” and it’s a catchy song, one of the highlights on the album. Fiddle, acoustic guitar and bodhrán are perfect, especially the bodhrán at the end. The sound is based on the Brighton school, but this time it’s more McDermott’s 2 Hours than Levellers.
The next number is amazing too: “Lost Land”. Catchy chorus, excellent fiddling and fantastic backing vocals at the end of the song.
The approach of “Death of a Nation” reminds me of Bleeding Hearts. It’s followed by another fave, “Environmentally Friendly”. Fiddle punk at its best!!!
“To No End” has a sound reminiscent of McDermott’s 2 Hours from “The Enemy Within” era.
“Murphy’s Logic” is a brilliant instrumental. I guess that this number is one of the hottest moments at Folk the System gigs.
“Street Corner People” is about the budget cuts on the Health National Service, especially on Mental Health. The band is really tight on this track: bass, tin whistle, bodhrán and fiddle. “Vanity” is an infectious fiddle punk number and “Least You Deserve” is a little bit darker.
“Unrest in the Wolds” come in a jewel case with a 4 page booklet with all the info: line-up, band pic, thank-yous and website. The studio credits are stated on the back cover (recorded at RAH Studio and produced by Jake Jacob and Folk The System). The lyrics to all of the songs can be found on the booklet, but the font size is very, very small.
Here at Celtic Folk Punk and More we do enjoy British fiddle folk punk. Apart from the Levellers, we love Tricks Upon Travellers, Tofu Love Frogs and Bleeding Hearts. So we are happy when we listen to “new” bands like Ferocious Dog and Folk The System.
Review by SlapMag Issue 64 Nov 16
The Leylines, Folk The System, Nick Parker, The Marrs Bar, Worcester, 8th October.
Following on from Dublin's finest, The Eskies, the Marrs Bar offered up another bill of high octane folk punk in the shape of festival (and personal) favourites The Leylines. As their never ending tour rolled back into Worcester after a triumphant show at the same venue earlier in the year. They’d just finished their regular jaunt round the festival circuit. Last time around they had packed out the bar with the help of Jack Of All and Under A Banner, delivering a storming night of punchy riffs.
Once again The Leylines helped piece together another line-up of like minded bedfellows, in the shape of sharp minded lyricist Nick Parker and fiery folk racketeers Folk The System.
Nick Parker takes to the stage armed with his trusty acoustic and his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek. He started to warm up the crowd with a set full of infectious melodies, catchy vocals and witty onstage banter. Regaling tales of feeling out of place, performing in the foyer of a John Cooper Clarke gig and co-writing with his pet dog. Along with instant foot-tapping classics such as I've Never Been To Dublin, Terry And June, An Open Letter To My Human and Down With The Youth (a tale of ill advised charity shop fashion). Nick leaves with the frantic strum of Metaphor reverberating around our collective noggins whilst I scribble the words "must hear more” across my pad. Parker’s set comes to a close and the audience give him a well deserved applaud of appreciation - for his sharp wit and quick delivery.
From razor sharp penmanship to serrated social commentary, Banbury based Folk The System stormed the stage with their riotous blend of hard hitting, rough and ready folk punk. Fiddle blazing acoustics attacked and bodhran pounded, as frontman Simon Hill spews forth with a torrent of injustice and biting ‘state of the nation’ commentary. Lamenting the Death Of a Nation, a Lost Land and Civilisation, as flights of hard strums take over for a rudimentary yet effective rhythmic thump. The band's energy onstage and fiddle outbursts encouraged the audience to spill onto the dance floor. Whilst the band continue to hammer their message home over a suitably raucous frenzy of instrument abuse and vocal hooks. Culminating with a fevered run through What You Know (The Levellers) and their own Vanity. Much to the delight of the assembled.
It's no secret that The Leylines have become a firm favourite in this household. I've watched this band develop into one of the hottest live folk rock spectacles. The Leylines don’t only possesses an instantly infectious sound, they also have the songs to match. They give their all each and every time they tread the boards. They never disappoint and always leave the audience baying for more. The band tear into You've Changed lead by the pounding rhythm section of Pete (bass) and Dave (drums), with Hannah weaving between the dual acoustic guitars of Matt and the frontman Steve. The crowd join in on the rousing vocals, and they all take to the floor. The room becomes a mass of limbs as the band deliver all the favourites, from the slow burning Save Your Soul to the frantic dash of Run For Cover (provoking a handful of the more fleet footed audience members). They then delivered the likes of the punchy Own Worst Enemy and Sorry My Friend. The band finished their main set with an emotionally powerful Queen And Country, with frontman and former soldier Steve blasting the government for sending our forces out to war without the proper protection. The hard hitting track affected everyone in the audience, not least a fellow former soldier who was lifted in defiance by his fellow revellers. As the band delivered a poignant finale, it was yet another engaging set. Of course, the audience begged for one more to send them on their way and The Leylines performed the entirety of Along The Old Straight Track and a gloriously rowdy take of Fifteen Years by The Levellers. Bringing the curtain down on another memorable night at the Marrs Bar, courtesy of The Leylines and friends. The Leylines return to The Marrs Bar as part of their Spring tour on April 28th.
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