Have You Been Drinking?
(East Grand Record Co.)
Fronted by combat veteran, Don Zuzula, The Tosspints play Celtic Punk focused around the horrors of war and aftermath. As you can imagine, much of the lyrical content is difficult to hear and depressing. But, like Anti-Flag, The Tosspints have the ability to be utterly serious and still make compelling, catchy music in the process. Just don’t miss the message here. Take the opener, “Genocide Is Painless,” for example. It begins with an authority figure giving orders to kill the men of a village, rape the women, take the live stock, and send the children to hell. The song is then followed by “Soldiers Heart,” which focuses on Don’s drinking to deal with his PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and not feeling like a man anymore.
As the record plays through, there are several tracks in each section that especially stand out. In the beginning, it’s the previously mentioned “Genocide Is Painless” and “Soldiers Heart.” In the middle, you have the fast and aggressive “Shoot At All The Cops,” and the uplifting melodic nature of “My Own Country.” In the third act, it’s the acoustic and solemn “Eleanor” and “Your Name” tracks. Both are incredible, and really help bring the record to an exceptional closing. In the middle, The Tosspints have also included two re-tooled Irish favorites (both of which are good fun): “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” and “Come Out Ye Black And Tans.”
Have You Been Drinking? is the band’s third outing, so once you’ve learned it, you’ll want to search out their last two records. Though I wasn’t immediately drawn into this album, it certainly grew on me. The first few spins, I admired it. By the eighth or ninth session, I knew most of the words and was becoming increasingly eager to play the record through. Have You Been Drinking? isn’t perfect, but it’s very, very good. Fans of Dropkick Murphys, The Tossers, and/or Flogging Molly should definitely look into this one. (Nathaniel Lay)