The Swaggerin' Growlers
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The Swaggerin' Growlers

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Folk Punk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"CD Review - The Swaggerin' Growlers - Keep Your Head Held HIgh"

Although that surly new Irish "shot drink" the Knot actually tastes like spicy ginger cake, its 100 proof potency will annihilate your reality. Ergo, it was with a mix of trepidation and joy that I accepted a bottle of it along with my review copy of the Swaggerin' Growlers' second full-length opus. The rationalization for this flagrant payola: the Growlers reckon their music is best heard while you're shit-faced. You don't really have to be wasted to enjoy this band; you just need to have been wasted at one point. For a week.

Whereas their debut was a slick in-studio affair, Keep Your Head Held High was recorded in the attic of an Allston apartment building. This thrifty production choice retains the unpolished rowdiness of their live show, and it ought to discourage a few annoying (though largely accurate) Flogging Molly comparisons.

Opening with a gorgeous a cappella rendering of traditional Irish tearjerker "The Green Fields of America" (they need to let tin-whistle/violin player Annie Libertini sing more), the disc clatters through calamitous carols about drinking, poverty, friendship, and sentimentalizing all that, which is a very Irish thing to do. Shining bits include the title track, "Whiskey After Dark," and "Where Do I Go from Here."

Read more: - The Boston Phoenix

"CD Review - The Swaggerin' Growlers - Keep Your Head Held HIgh"

I’m trying to get this post in before it’s time for me to be on baby duty for the evening. Here goes: The Swaggerin’ Growlers’ second album Keep Your Head Held High picks up right where their last one, The Bottle And The Bow, left off. The Boston based band has again filled an album full of awesome Irish/Celtic-influenced folk-punk where instruments found in traditional Celtic music like fiddles, tin whistles, accordions, and mandolins are juxtaposed (well, integrated nicely with, perhaps) with a traditional punk rhythm section and rough but not gruff vocals with the occasional female vocal as well.

It’s a fun album that (for at least a moment) can make you forget where you and your sorrows are. It’s the perfect accompaniment for a pint of Guinness or perhaps some Jameson or Redbreast whiskey. While much of Keep Your Head Held High is fast-paced and a raucous good time, there are a good number of songs that will keep you glued to your barstool reflecting on what a mess your life has become. On a few songs I even find almost ska-sounding upstroked guitars creeping in as well. It’s all well and good though as Keep Your Head Held High is another solid and thoroughly enjoyable album from these guys. Besides, who doesn’t love drinking songs and a band that name checks Social Distortion and the Bouncing Souls in their lyrics? Exactly. RIYL: Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Pogues, etc… - Can You See The Sunset - Blog

"CD Review - The Swaggerin' Growlers - Keep Your Head Held HIgh"

The Swaggerin Growlers could have done the safe thing on “Keep Your Head Held High” their sophomoric release and recorded another dozen or so tracks of riot folk - they didn’t. Sure the music is still aggressive folk punk but on their Celtic foundations they’ve added Bluegrass, Old Tyme, Ska, Swing, and Hardcore. Its nice to hear some originality and new ideas in a sometimes over crowd field and for the most part they hit the mark. I would though like to hear them work with a experienced producer to really tease out their ideas. - Shite'n'Onions

"Live Review - The Swaggerin' Growlers"

at Dover Brick House, Dec. 12
“We’re a bunch of drunk assholes. It’s good to be back in Dover.”
With these warm words of introduction, Jonny Swagger launched his band into a frenetic set of Celtic punk rock at the Dover Brick House. Sandwiched between power punk trio Bugo and Boston rockabilly stars Dave Smith & The Country Rebels, The Swaggerin’ Growlers returned to their lead singer’s hometown to participate in the Brick House’s Wicked Wednesday festivities on the late evening of Dec. 12.
Swagger, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, was obviously amped up for the occasion. With a devilishly giddy grin on his sweat-caked face, little flecks of spittle occasionally cartwheeling off his lip, he crooned his first line of the set: “I sold my soul for a bottle of Bushmills.” Meanwhile, Swagger rapidly strummed an acoustic guitar, like an Irish folk musician in fast-forward.
Joining Swagger were Matt Cost on bass and backing vocals, Chestnut on drums and Seth Moore on tin whistle. The Growlers had to make do without fiddle player Annie Libertini, who could not make it to the show. The group was also without mandolin player Matthew Lister, who, according to other band members, wandered off the stage in Portland some weeks back and never returned.

But, even without the aid of fiddle and mandolin, the band managed to inject an audibly Celtic influence into each punkabilly tune. Moore, who wore a black leather jacket with a huge middle finger patched to the back, contributed greatly to the music’s Irish edge as his fingers fluttered across the tin whistle. Alternating between electric and acoustic bass, Cost complimented Swagger’s playing nicely, and the two of them were exceptionally animated onstage, sometimes hopping around like crazed bunnies on amphetamines. Chestnut, who sported a braided goatee, a pork pie hat, glasses and lots of tats, kept up the brisk pace with machine gun drumming, often playing with wrists crossed.

The Growlers’ style came in stark contrast to the opening band, Bugo. Hailing from Newburyport, Mass., the group is composed of a simple power trio format with guitar, bass and drums. The band played loud and heavy rock songs, including a tribute to Ted Nugent and a couple of instrumental tunes. Although the set featured some pretty kickass drum beats, the trio could stand to tighten up its nuts and bolts, and the bassist and guitarist both sang with forced growls that belied their relatively clean-cut appearances.
Following the Growlers were the fun-lovin’ Country Rebels, who Swagger qualified as one of the best new bands coming out of the Boston area. The group (which features former Satan’s Teardrops bassist Zach Shedd on upright bass) is characterized by greasy hair, big sideburns, heavy tattoos and a country-western speed punk sound. Bandleader Dave Smith sang with a distinctly unforced growl and riffed on electric rhythm guitar, while the lead guitarist, making his first ever appearance with the band, ripped fast-paced but twangy solos. All the while, the bassist and drummer thumped away with galloping swiftness.
But The Growlers were the Wicked Wednesday centerpiece, and their hometown enthusiasm showed. Swagger seemed to approach the gig with a mix of nostalgia and disgust for Dover. Although some of the other band members are from the immediate Boston area, many of the songs dealt with living and not working in the Garrison City.
“Who here lives in this town?” Swagger asked between songs. “Well you all fuckin’ suck!” he continued when no one responded.
Other regular subjects for The Growlers include drinking, unemployment and … drinking. The band played several songs off its 2007 album, “The Bottle and the Bow,” released in March by Thugly Goose Records. The show at the Brick House, like the CD, showcased influences ranging from The Pogues to Rancid to the Clancy Brothers. (The back of the latest CD shows a photo that includes two record sleeves from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, along with several liquor bottles, a paperback copy of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” a deck of Bicycle playing cards and a switchblade.)
One song, called “Greetings From the Unemployment Line,” dealt with the trials of being jobless. Another, as Swagger bitterly explained, recalled the days when he lived in some dude’s attic in Dover and was “piss broke.” Yet another, Swagger claimed, the band learned by playing “Guitar Hero.”
But, despite their overstated degeneracy and unwholesome lyrics, the band members seemed endowed with playful and exuberant spirits that turned each Irish drinking song into a festive and joyful musical experience. (At one point, Swagger mentioned that Cost is straightedge, although it was hard to tell whether he was being sarcastic or not.) After delivering their final tune of the night, the fond farewell of “Kiss My Ass,” The Swaggerin’ Growlers left the stage with parting words of encouragement.
“If you tip your bartender, we’ll tip your mom,” Swagger told the confused audience members, a couple of whom chuckled awkwardly.
- The Wire - New Hampshire

"From the Mouths of Babes: Teen Punk and More at The Middle East"

... headlined by Boston’s folk-punkers, The Swaggerin’ Growlers, (in photo) which is releasing their latest CD, “Hold Your Head High” this very day. Sample song title: “Bastards of Dorchester Ave.” The Growlers portrays a Dennis Lehane kinda Boston... -

"Live Show Review - The Swaggerin’ Growlers, Have Nots, Star Fucking Hipsters - December 12, 2009 The Middle East Upstairs"

I caught my first punk show of the winter season this Saturday at the Middle East upstairs at one in the afternoon. Who knew you could do that? I couldn’t remember a show I’d ever been to that had started before 7 PM. Except for the time I saw Raffi, live (incidentally, one of the better performances I’ve ever seen. Even if it was only because I was a four-year-old with a funnel cake watching a Unibomber-lookalike play three chords).

The first act of the night was a Boston five-person folk-punk outfit The Swaggerin’ Growlers. The SGs came out with some real elephant-crushing energy that hardly relented during the course of their set and it wasn’t just one member of the group holding it all up. Whether it was lead vocalist Johnny Swagger contorting his body into some mean Hendrix-style lean-backs (which I’ve never, ever seen someone do at a punk show) or Fiddler/Tin Whistler/Accordionist Annie Growler getting mean on her tin whistle or even just the between-song banter, you could definitely tell that the SGs were there to have some goddamn fun up on that stage. Their fast folk-punk tunes in 4/4 time (with the exception of a 3/4 musical break where the lead singer shouted “WALTZ TIME!!!”), kept the crowd swinging and moshing through most of their set.
Though some of their instruments - like the flute or their mandolinist - seemed like they would be superfluous, it was quite the opposite - especially Liam B. Howler’s mandolin. It seemed to take the place of what would be, in a folk-punk or ska band, a horn section of some kind - but it also added a new rhythmic element to their songs which, when added on top of the punchy bass, punchy guitars, measured use of cymbals/militaristic drumming and excellent fiddlin’/accordianin’/whistlin’, made their songs forceful and unique. Their only real shortcoming is nothing unique - in a club setting, it becomes difficult, at times, for bands with very wordy songs to get their message across. However, with song titles like ‘Guilty of Being Poor’ and another song about ‘living in a shitty apartment’, it’s not hard to see that these guys (and gal) have a thing or two to say but might be more interested in just having a good fuckin’ time. - The Deli


The Bottle and the Bow (2007, CD, Thugly Goose Records)
Keep Your Head Held High (2009, CD, Thugly Goose Records)
Outlaw Waltz (2010, Single, Thugly Goose Records)



The Swaggerin' Growlers are a riot folk band. We play on Acoustic Guitars and Mandolins, Overamplified, too drunk, too loud, and Goddamn proud. We started with a love for the Pogues and old Irish Folk, then discovered Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie, and grew up with Boston Hardcore Punk. Mix with Ska and Swing, shake vigorously, and throw at the nearest passerby. What you see is what you get: No Apologies. No Remorse. No Regrets. Grab another drink and lets tear it up and maybe make a difference.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.
There is no strength without unity.