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Skinny Lister: Forge & Flagon (Side One Dummy) 

Alternately rambunctious and tender, Skinny Lister play a distinctly English brand of folk music. And calling on the traditions rooted in taverns and busking, this is music to crowd around and join in.

The band's own biography describes Skinny Lister as "not your average, modern day, gentrified English folk group" and indeed, the band's debut, Forge & Flagon, sparkles with a punk-rock spirit that runs circles around the Mumfords of the day.

The readiest comparison for Skinny Lister is the Pogues, with the traditional/punk hybrid perfected by Shane MacGowan and company serving as a guidebook. But Skinny Lister take the intensity and energy of punk without borrowing the instrumentation, preferring to stick with acoustic guitar, upright bass, ukulele, mandolin and melodeon (from the accordion family).

Opening song "If the Gaff Don't Let Us Down" blends the sea-shanty tradition with a pub shout-along, singing about sailing away knowing full well the travelers will be dreaming of England the whole journey.

Forge & Flagon mellows out toward the end, with the beautiful violin lines matching the yearning in the lyrics "Roll on these 20 days until I'm by your side again" on the ballad "Plough & Orion." "Colours" is an ode to the carefree summers of youth.

Forge & Flagon is an accomplished debut and Skinny Lister's appeal spans from fans of traditional/punk hybrids like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys to those swept up by the neo-folk revival of bands like the Lumineers.

More by Eric Swedlund

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