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The Valley of the Shadow of Death

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Album Review

Longtime crowd favorites in their home neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, and with four previous albums under their belt, the Tossers make their debut on the respected Victory imprint with this excellent collection of modern Celtic folk-punk. Their most obvious stylistic referent is the Pogues, whose combination of traditional instrumentation (whistle, banjo, etc.), proud alcoholism, and blistering energy formed the mold for a number of similar American and English bands. There's more than a little Shane MacGowan in singer and mandolinist Tony Duggins' combination of splenetic vituperation and self-flagellating introspection, and in his snarling delivery as well. But where the Pogues sounded like they were on the very verge of flying off the rails at any given moment, the Tossers are powerfully in control of their sound, which produces a very different type of excitement. "Go Down Witch Down" shows that harmonic complexity and visceral energy don't have to be enemies; both "Crock of Gold" and "Valley of the Shadow of Death" show that it's possible to hold a normal person's attention throughout the length of a six-minute song, as long as you structure it well and don't lapse into self-indulgent twaddle; "No Loot, No Booze, No Fun" invokes Dee Dee Ramone in a touching but not overly sentimental way. And every single song features a melody that you'll be singing along to within one verse. Excellent.

Customer Reviews

Very powerful

This is probably one of their most mature albums, especially lyrically. Really expresses emotions on powerful levels while still having catchy tunes.

Near perfect

Though I had heard some of their later an earlier albums before i checked this one out, The Tossers became one of my all time favorite bands with this album. They are so much more than just some drinking band, some random punk band, or even just a celtic band. This album showcases some deep tracks with thoughtful lyrics. It's not all drinking and Irish cliche. That's all there too, don't get me wrong, but there's real substance here.

This album, and on many of their other albums, they are on par with The Pogues. Which is really a rare similarity that I would bestow. In fact, they are more consistent than The Pogues. The Pogues have more timeless hits, but The Tossers very rarely have a truly weak track. Even the slower songs are good here. Most of this album is just a set of new standards in the genre. Basically this album is perfect. Good Morning Da is so irresistably catchy. I haven't been able to get it out of my head since i first heard it. Drinking in the Day and I've Pursued Nothing boast some great lyrics that you just can't stop thinking about. Epic.

There's only one weak song on here, but even that is a 3* song. So at their worst, this album is still as good as the average celtic song.


Formed: 1993 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

The Tossers formed on Chicago's South Side in the early '90s, predating such popular Irish punk bands as the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Comprising members Mike Pawula (guitar), T. Duggins (vocals, mandolin), Aaron Duggins (tin whistle), Dan Shaw (bass), Bones (drums), Rebecca Manthe (violin), and Clayton Hansen (banjo), the seven-piece band blends Celtic rock, punk, pub singalongs, traditional folk, and a tangible love of beer. The Tossers released four albums -- We'll Never Be Sober Again...
Full Bio
The Valley of the Shadow of Death, The Tossers
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Customer Ratings