The Mighty Stef
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The Mighty Stef

Kilbeggan, Leinster, Ireland | SELF

Kilbeggan, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
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"Live Review"

Thursday night saw the much esteemed Dublin act, The Mighty Stef and The Streetgang Sound, take to the Whelan’s stage. Stef and co always guarantee an entertaining night with their energetic rock ballads. They know exactly how to put on a show and this night was no different.

As they took to the stage, the unsteady and drunken crowd began to chant, roar and scream. Lead singer Stefan Murphy struts on to the stage leaving a glow of charisma behind him. The guy holds so much allure, you can’t help your eyes being glued to the stage awaiting a few words, or lick a of guitar to introduce the evening. His messy and bushy hair is almost hypnotic, bouncing around his face with every movement he makes.

The band has evolved from the early Mighty Stef days. It now consists of three guitarists, a bassist, drummer and two guys on keyboards- seven people in total, it’s then that you realise - it’s going to get loud!

But the first song was subtle; a delicate arrangement of keyboards lifted by some fitting guitar and of course, the lyrics. The Stef has simplicity with his lyrics, a defined control, straight forwardness that indicates genius, similar to that of Tom Waits or Nick Cave. They have a rawness that makes the band one of the best live acts in Dublin and the type of front man that you can’t help but hold on to every word, even when it is being smashed towards your face with the weight of a seven piece band. This was evident when he whacked out a crowd favourite, 'Poisonous Love'. A cross between, an Irish Trad ballad, mixed with the backbone music of raw rock and roll, both of which complement each other, with the right amount taken from each genre.

'Death Threats' was another tune that pleased the jumping and yelling fans. The tune is very Stef orientated with the lyrics self proclaiming his life-opinions, while strung along a powerful and superlative melody. A great tune worth mentioning is 'I Love You', the catchy track is one to get the crowd going and Stef seemed to enjoy whacking out this tune which is familiar with his fans.

The performance throughout the night was astounding, enjoyable, and if you get the chance to see these guys perform, you'll walk away not only a fan, but with a t-shirt, hat or some item of merchandise like most punters on the night. Beach balls and balloons flung around the crowd, sparklers shimmered, and drunkenness was in abundance, truly a rock and roll band. However it must be said, the rhythm guitarist with the sunglasses on in the dark room added a bit of pretentiousness to the group, alas there’s always one! Five out of Five. Must be heard! - heinekenmusic.ie


"100 Midnights Album Review"

So far this year, I’ve caught the Mighty Stef twice - once opening for Flogging Molly on a big stage, and once for the Tossers in a small club – and while the band’s sound (and hometown of Dublin) do readily compliment the Celtic punk sounds of both bands, the music of the Mighty Stef is really nothing at all like that easily recognized sound.

And vocalist Stef Murphy, the actual Mighty Stef himself, is as much a aural chameleon as the band bearing his name, with a voice that wanders across the spectrum, drawing influence from as wide and powerful an array of sources like Tom Waits, Shane MacGowan and Nick Cave, with a little Neal Diamond and even some Joey Ramone.

On 100 Midnights, the Mighty Stef takes you on a tour of all their varied sounds. Starting with the moment the record opens with the raw rock of “Downtown” (Listen/Download), it’s never obvious where the record will go next, although it is always fun, even though it seems to simultaneously be mildly macabre.

“Nelligan Guts” find Stef going for his best Shane MacGowan, and cranking through a song that is equal parts Celtic and full-blown Gypsy punk, with just a dose of sea shanty added. In fact, the this blend of sound reappears more than once on the record, always with a tune that makes you want to dance, like on the album’s title track (Listen/Download), and on “A Pretend Sailor’s Goodbye” (Listen/Download).

This isn’t the extent of Stef’s sound, though. “Golden Gloves” is a raw, bluesy rock track (Listen/Download), and much of the rest of record dabbles in his emotional style of pub rock that tinkers with punk, a little country and simple, smooth rock and roll.

Despite the fact that it doesn’t strictly subscribe to the Celtic punk sound, 100 Midnights gains further credibility from that scene by the inclusion of a few members of the Pogues dueting on tracks. Former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan appears on “Safe At Home,” a dark tune that waltzes between the thereal and the raw (Listen/Download), and the legendary Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan duets with the Mighty Stef on a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waitin’ Around To Die” (Listen/Download), with the resulting track being a melancholy drinking tune.

Based on the power I’ve seen of Stef’s live shows, on small stages and large, and on the complexity and talent exhibited on 100 Midnights, I expect that the Mighty Stef will probably be around for quite some time, and if he gets noticed, is due for the sort of cult following that musicians like Tom Waits and Nick Cave get, the notice that is due to equal parts musical talent, raw charisma and innovation of sound. - punkmusic.about.com


"100 Midnights Album Review"

Nick Cave is obsessed by it. Shane MacGowan appears immune to it. Johnny Cash’s fascination with death and mortality came to define his legend and followed him, fittingly, all the way to the grave. Death, too, is a lingering theme through 100 Midnights, the second full-length record from Dubliner the Mighty Stef (né Stefan Murphy).
Keeping with a macabre theme, 100 Midnights follows the release last May of the Death Threats EP, a mostly acoustic effort. That EP marked the last ever recorded performance of Ronnie Drew, on a cover of Pete St. John’s lesser-known classic ‘The Mero,’ before he too succumbed to the allure of the grave. The Irish folk tradition is not as pronounced here as on the EP, with the full-band arrangements tending to take it closer to his Cash and proto-punk influences than anything, but Stef’s meaty Dublin brogue is unmistakable. Like an Irish Iggy Pop, he is: loud, brash but ultimately far more subtle than you’ll ever realise.
Opening track ‘Downtown’ is an obvious choice for a lead single, an energetic rocker in the Springsteen mould, but it’s merely a springboard for the rest of the album. ‘Safe At Home’ is a duet with former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan and wears the influence of that band proudly, shifting seamlessly between a sparse, mournful verse (sung by O’Riordan) and Stef’s thunderous, organ-assisted garage rock chorus. The title track and ‘I Swear I Have No Feelings For That Girl,’ sea shanties both, see Stef adopt a smoky tone that’s eerily reminiscent of the late Drew, while ‘Golden Gloves’ is the most unlikely love song imaginable, as Stef howls out blue lines on top of fuzzy 12-bar riffs and boogie woogie piano: “come rain down fire on me baby / hit me with your golden gloves.”
‘Sunshine Serenade’ is a deceptive title for a cautionary tale about drug-taking and child mortality, and the upbeat, Memphis-country arrangement is just as misleading, but it turns out to be the most moving track on the album, hinging on the chorus line: “you will not leave this hospital until you give me your word: don’t let it steal the sunshine from your eyes.” ‘Russian Roulette’ is a dreamy tribute to Johnny Ace, the original rock n’ roll suicide case, but the duet with Shane MacGowan, a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Waiting Round To Die,’ is just downright discomforting considering the parallels between the lives of MacGowan and its authors. Well, nobody said it would be easy to digest.
PUNKMUSIC.ABOUT.COM
So far this year, I’ve caught the Mighty Stef twice - once opening for Flogging Molly on a big stage, and once for the Tossers in a small club – and while the band’s sound (and hometown of Dublin) do readily compliment the Celtic punk sounds of both bands, the music of the Mighty Stef is really nothing at all like that easily recognized sound.
And vocalist Stef Murphy, the actual Mighty Stef himself, is as much a aural chameleon as the band bearing his name, with a voice that wanders across the spectrum, drawing influence from as wide and powerful an array of sources like Tom Waits, Shane MacGowan and Nick Cave, with a little Neal Diamond and even some Joey Ramone.
On 100 Midnights, the Mighty Stef takes you on a tour of all their varied sounds. Starting with the moment the record opens with the raw rock of “Downtown” (Listen/Download), it’s never obvious where the record will go next, although it is always fun, even though it seems to simultaneously be mildly macabre.
“Nelligan Guts” find Stef going for his best Shane MacGowan, and cranking through a song that is equal parts Celtic and full-blown Gypsy punk, with just a dose of sea shanty added. In fact, the this blend of sound reappears more than once on the record, always with a tune that makes you want to dance, like on the album’s title track (Listen/Download), and on “A Pretend Sailor’s Goodbye” (Listen/Download).
This isn’t the extent of Stef’s sound, though. “Golden Gloves” is a raw, bluesy rock track (Listen/Download), and much of the rest of record dabbles in his emotional style of pub rock that tinkers with punk, a little country and simple, smooth rock and roll.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t strictly subscribe to the Celtic punk sound, 100 Midnights gains further credibility from that scene by the inclusion of a few members of the Pogues dueting on tracks. Former Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan appears on “Safe At Home,” a dark tune that waltzes between the thereal and the raw (Listen/Download), and the legendary Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan duets with the Mighty Stef on a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waitin’ Around To Die” (Listen/Download), with the resulting track being a melancholy drinking tune.
Based on the power I’ve seen of Stef’s live shows, on small stages and large, and on the complexity and talent exhibited on 100 Midnights, I expect that the Mighty Stef will probably be around for quite some time, and if he gets noticed, is due for the sort of cult following that musicians like Tom Waits and Nick Cave get, the notice that is due to equal parts musical talent, raw charisma and innovation of sound.
DAILY MUSIC GUIDE
100 Midnights is the second album from Dubliner The Mighty Stef. The LP contains an impressive array of songs which draw from a great many genres, and are expertly arranged and constructed.

The album manages to coherently mash a variety of styles and influences such as rockabilly and punk together with great ease, and begins in roaring fashion with ‘Downtown’; a brash rock tune complete with raspy gruff vocals - a perfect launch pad for the rest of the album.

The title track has a real sea shanty feel to it through its simple beat and use of a squeeze box, and then the listener is taken inland in the form of ‘Sunshine Serenade’; a folk inspired country tune dealing with the murky issue of urban drug use. ‘Golden Gloves’ is lively affair evoking memories of 50’s rockabilly with a swinging melody and coarse vocals.

Two of the major high points are the duets, first off being with The Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan. The track switches from her sweet and tender vocals to Stef’s angry and aggressive retorts, backed by frantic garage rock. The second duet continues with The Pogues connection, this time with the legendary Shane MacGowan, who takes the microphone for the re-worked version of ‘Waiting Around To Die’ - an aptly chosen song for a man who is seemingly immune to death.

The album closes with ‘A Pretend Sailor's Goodbye’ - a beautifully crafted song with a stirring and sentimental sing-along chorus. In itself the song demonstrates his versatility, vocal power and ability.

There is a sense of real boldness from this record, not only in terms of successful genre fusion, but also the lyrical content, often dealing with dark and murky issues such as death and drug addiction. This record has a unique and distinctly Irish sound, whilst successfully managing to harness influences from across the globe. 100 Midnights is an achievement, and the genre-hopping style makes it an interesting journey from start to finish.

Rating: 4/5

- State Magazine


"TMS & The Baptists Album Review 4/5"

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Stefan Murphy may have been a fixture on the Dublin music scene for what seems like an age but, with his third solo album, it seems as if the stars have all finally aligned. Always an arch chronicler of the darker side of city life, his troubadour style seemed out of step when the singer-songwriter scene mainly consisted of young men and their songs of tragic personal relationships. Now, however, that tragedy has moved onto a far larger scale and needs documenting.

Step forward the Mighty Stef. ‘We Want Blood’, complete with a raging, finger pointing video, is the first truly great attempt to articulate the anger and frustration caused by the country’s slide into potential disaster. Such a domestic viewpoint, however, is ironically only a small part of what makes TMS & The Baptists such a vital record. Made in Berlin with the formally fairly hopeless Humanzi (now The Baptists of the title) and eccentric German punk rock legend Tom Schwoll, the album nonetheless casts more than the odd glance to the opposite side of the Atlantic.

New York and Hollywood both feature and the name of his new band is entirely apt, shot through as the record is with biblical and spiritual references. He has two cracks at ‘St John The Baptist’, one a fiery full band opening number, the other a stark late era Johnny Cash reworking. While it might seem strange to mention the late musical icon in the same breath as a young lad from Dublin, in reality it’s not that much of a stretch. Murphy carries himself throughout with a deep conviction, sounding both undeniably rooted in his surroundings and also of the world at large. His time has come, it’s just a shame that it took a the country’s impdending doom to make us realise it. - heinekenmusic.ie


"TMS & The Baptists Album Review"

Dubliner Stefan Murphy, better known as The Mighty Stef, could hardly have timed the release of his latest single with any more precision. ‘We Want Blood,’ the lead track from his third album TMS & the Baptists, dropped in mid-November, just as Europe and the markets finally called time on the government’s attempted recovery. That it was the Germans who blew the final whistle was only fitting – the album was recorded in Berlin with veteran punk producer Tom Schwoll.

The so-called Baptists are in fact a band drawn from three Dublin bands: Humanzi, Howlin Dowlin and The Last Tycoons. 2008’s 100 Midnights featured a diverse array of styles and genres that worked more often than not, but often the record felt more like a collection of very good songs rather than a very good album. With the benefit of a settled band behind it, TMS & the Baptists has a much more organic feel, and the still-wide range of influences is brought together with minimal fuss.

Seasoned Stefographers will be aware that his music is rarely, if ever, explicitly political so ‘We Want Blood’ (not his use of “we” rather than “I”) comes as a bit of a shock. Despite the provocative title, the song is as much a statement of helplessness and exasperation as it is a call to arms, though the line “let the scarlet red river turn our city into mud” cuts deeply. Somewhat surprisingly, given the times that we live in, ‘We Want Blood’ is the only song of its type on the album, and the remaining eight tracks are more or less what we’ve come to expect from Stef: highly personal, piercingly insightful musings on the human spirit with a solid blues-rock core.

TMS & the Baptists might not the fiery political record it had threatened to be, but it does contain some of Stef’s most sophisticated songwriting to date. ‘John the Baptist (Part 1)’ bristles with a Blonde on Blonde-style enthusiasm. ‘Blood and Whiskey’ heaves and hos with morose accordion and an oom-pa rhythm. ‘Jeffrey Lee Pierce,’ a semi-tribute to the late Gun Club frotman, boasts the sort of burning melody that Tom Waits is prone to pulling out whenever he damn well feels like it, while closer ‘The Harbour Song’ turns the Waits influence into full-blown imitation, with impressive results.

‘John the Baptist (Part 2)’ is the stronger of the twins, a vivid outlaw folk track that sees Stef go it alone with acoustic guitar and a gruff, affected southern United States accent before the Baptists slowly and subtly creep into the mix. Stef sings ruefully, in character, of a motley crew of Texan miscreants, each of whom in turn demands his head on a pike: “Said the good cop to the bad cop after 14 solid hours of beating his young suspect black and blue, ‘Bring me the head of St. John the Baptist or may the Lord shine mercy down on you.’”

It’s a standout moment on the Mighty Stef’s most accomplished record to date and yet another sign that one of Ireland’s most underrated songwriters has properly hit his stride and is unlikely to be slowing down anytime soon. - State Magazine


"The Sins Of Sainte Catherine Album Review"

A review of his album 'The Sins of Saint Catherine'
Review Snapshot:
I love this record. In the 3 or 4 weeks since I got it very little else has come out of any speaker in my vicinity. Sure it's far from perfect, but it manages to capture just some of the Mighty Stef's persona and put it across in 15 great songs. I've gone past objective, I'm in awe.

The Cluas Verdict: 8 out of 10.

Full Review:
The Mighty Stef has been a stalwart of the Irish music scene for many a long year, first cutting his teeth as part of The Subtonics, before going it alone and growing into the enigmatic entity that is The Mighty. Earlier this year he upped camp, leaving the dreary monotone of Dublin's winter before settling in Montreal. Armed only with a portable heater, a pair of fetching woolly gloves and a dream. His experience and those of the preceding years became "The Sins of Saint Catherine."

For those acquainted with his live shows, this record throws more than a few curveballs. Not all fiery punk? elements of country & western, the blues, and wistful melancholy are brought together and fused with that infectious reggae-like beat. "The Days of Wine and Roses" epitomises this, a tune so different from the live spectacle that at first it seems weird and uncomfortable, like a long lost lover throwing themselves back in your arms. A few whirls of the merry go round later though and all is well once more.

The songs on offer deviate from the exuberant brilliance that is "Prayer For the Broken Hearted," to the new and mature Neil Hannon tinged wonder of "21st Century" all culminating in the euphoric, affirming and signature "Whistle Song."

This album doesn't break any new musical boundaries, there are no 15 minute chicken squawk solos, no "the world has pissed on me even though I'm brilliant" introspection, just tunes. And bloody good ones at that. At times a bit more musical deviation might go a long way, a more fluid band could possibly bring more life and background drama. As it is this is a collection of excellent songs, steeped equally in the fine tradition that is The Stooges, The Ramones, Luke Kelly and Shane McGowan. No one can put it quite like Stef, no one says as much about Dublin, today, and no one can put the same melody on it.

These are tales of chancers, scumbags and sluts, of the drip and drag of the nine to five, of wanting to escape and being too f**ked up to do it. Melody, wit and insight bound together by a voice that breathes as much charisma as it does raw power.

Something special.

Daragh Murray
- Cluas.com


"Bad Bad Men EP Review"

THE MIGHTY STEF

If You Can’t Give Me Everything Firstborn Recordings 4/5

The opening track from The Mighty Stef and Cheap Freaks’ Bad Bad Men EP, a 7” split tribute to Memphis underground hero Greg Cartwright, is the bitter, vainglorious lament of a man who is hard to live with. Only 250 vinyl copies have been pressed. But the Dublin singer, and the object of this tribute, both deserve a wider audience. - The Irish Times


Discography

The Sins Of Sainte Catherine
Album - 2006
Radioplay in ireland for:
Prayer for the Broken Hearted
Dignity Tonight
Lord Knows
Radioplay in Germany for:
Sail The Boats
The Days Of Wine And Roses

Death Threats EP
EP - 2008
Streaming & Radioplay for
Death Threats
The Mero

100 Midnights
Album - 2009
Radioplay and streaming for:
Downtown

TMS & The Baptists
Album - 2010
Radioplay and streaming for: We Want Blood

Photos

Bio

The Mighty Stef are an alternative rock band from Dublin, Ireland. They have released 3 albums independently and are about to release their 4th which was produced by Alain Johannes [QOTSA/Chris Cornell/Arctic Monkeys] at his 11AD studio in Hollywood, LA. The Mighty Stef have toured with acts such as Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphy's and Bob Geldof. Their most recent singles have ranked as number 1 most played tracks of the month on Ireland's leading alternative station, Phantom FM.

Band Members