Monday, September 12, 2011


Song Title: "Battle of Vinegar Hill"
Artist: Blaggard
Search Term: "Blaggard"

"Blaggard" is apparently a very popular band name, judging from my search engine of choice, and why wouldn't it be? Not only do plenty of post-Pogues folk-punk bands write scads of hardheaded lyrics honoring the so-called scoundrels ("blaggards") who have historically won or defended whatever way of life they currently enjoy from sinister oppressors and interlopers, but the word "blaggard" itself expels more than a whiff of tipsy, vaguely nauseous braggadocio in its phonemes; another common attribute of this style of music. Still, it makes it difficult for any one Blaggard to stand out amid the ruckus. This (one of at least two Blaggards from Australia) is the one with whom we are concerned today, and I would guess it's the best of the lot.

I haven't been able to locate any information about this band's make-up, but the first-person singular pronouns on Blaggard's website make me think it's a one-man project, which would make the tightly drawn, rough-and-stumble skill of this song all the more impressive. The Pogues' influence is clear in the way the beery spittle of the vocals scuffs up the lissome folk mandolin (whose stomping hook is doubled by a tin whistle), but the music's roots in Aussie rather than Irish folk make Blaggard sound closer to his countrymen Weddings Parties Anything. The lyrics concern the Castle Hill Rebellion of 1804, in which Irish convicts being held in Australia rose up against their British colonial rulers, leading to the creation of a small and short-lived independent empire within Australia. Things did not end well for the rebels--in part because many of them were shortsighted enough to get drunk and wander off after they initially overran the government farm in New South Wales--but "Battle of Vinegar Hill" successfully embodies the optimism and righteous anticipation of the rebels in the moments preceding the uprising. So if you feel like raising a glass or three to futility, I guess this is the song for you!


  1. I hate to be the annoying pedantic one (oh, who am I kidding, I LOVE to be the annoying pedantic one) but the word is actually "blackguard." You have the pronunciation correct, though! Which is more than Colin Meloy can say.

  2. Ha! Fair enough. I probably just saw the corruption "blaggard" enough times that I assumed that it was accepted as its own word, even if only as slang.

    Didja like the song, though?

  3. Yes! It's a little too airy for me - I think it would really benefit from a more substantial arrangement - but it's nice and bouncy and catchy!