Music Notes: Folk for your right to party

Think of folk music and you're probably thinking either of the sweater wearing, finger-in-the-ear stereotype of yore or nu-folk upstarts likes the waistcoat wearing Mumfords. But folk doesn't have to be fey.

Skinny Lister is not your average, gentrified English folk group — for one thing they got their name from the Lister family, pioneers in the use of aesthetic; while their rawkus sound has seen them dubbed the 'English Pogues'.

Fronted by Dan Heptinstall and Lorna Thomas; a vocalist with a lusty cackle and flirtatious presence, the London-based five-piece also includes long-time shanty singer Sam 'Mule' Brace.

The Skinny Lister sound took hold as Dan's perceptive ballads and folkie idylls and turned them into rambunctious rum-fuelled party music.

Their allure is immediate – at a time when modern home-grown folk music often spells designer bearded, theme park Americanisation, Skinny Lister are a welcome throwback to earthier bands. Their musical blend has something of The Pogues' infectious camaraderie and jovial recklessness. They approach the live scene with equal gusto, playing over 30 festivals last summer — a nonstop work rate that saw them acknowledged and awarded the 'Hardest Working Band' of 2011.


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'We travelled hundreds of miles together in a Land Rover with a double bass strapped to the roof, sharing the driving, playing gigs every night and going out to party afterwards. We didn't make it easy on ourselves but it does bond you as family,' Dan recollects.

This week they visit Norwich to coincide with the release of their debut album Forge & Flagon, out on Monday on Sunday Best Recordings.

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The album — which is named after a home-made pub in a friend's back garden, was recorded in deepest darkest Snowdonia with David Wrench, who has produced Bat For Lashes and James Yorkston amongst others.

Each of its 13 tracks harnesses the energy and fervour of the band's live performances, the album represents all sides of Skinny Lister; from the beautifully melodic and the sunkissed through to the foot-stomping barn-storming party music. The album is also punctuated with the band's trademark shanties which go to make Skinny Lister gigs so inclusive.

And that's no idle description. The band have a troupe of dancing girls called The Skinny Sisters who run into the crowd and dance with the audience at their raucous live shows — they also usually pass around a flagon of rum!

You won't find run-of-the-mill bog standard T-shirts merchandise stall either - they sell bric-a-brac and hand-picked items which have included an actual anchor, horse-brasses and vintage pub frames.

It's should be quite a spectacle, don't miss it.

? Skinny Lister play Waterfront Studio on June 10.

? Forge & Flagon is out on June 11.

? Further listening: skinnylister.com

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