Year Of The Dog

Culann's Hounds

Independent release, 2006

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


What do you get when you cross a former backup musician with Blues Traveler, a Berklee graduate who plays Irish accordion, a raspy-voiced lead singer, and a former punk drummer? I don’t know either, but they’re probably playing at an Irish pub near you.

(Pause for raucous laughter.)

In all seriousness, though, Culann’s Hounds is a great band. Out of San Francisco, they combine neo-traditional Irish dance music with a driving energy that keeps your feet moving and your heart racing. This is my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 not nice, calming, pseudo-New Age Celtic claptrap; this is music to drink and dance by, with just enough twists to keep it fresh. Year Of The Dog is their second CD, still self-released, and is an absolute delight.

The musicianship on Year Of The Dog is wonderful. The members of Culann’s Hounds can really play; especial note should be made of Steve Gardner’s fiddle playing and Renee de la Prade’s button accordion playing. (She got hooked backstage at a Pogues concert. It shows.) Backing musicians are brilliant, and include Blues Traveler’s John Popper on harmonica (which works astonishingly well with Irish music, not something I would have guessed – or, to the best of my knowledge, ever heard).

Year Of The Dog is a neat mixture of vocal and instrumental numbers; Culann’s Hounds prove quickly that they’re capable of handling both sides of the Irish music equation. On the instrumental side, tracks like “Rainy Day” and “The Skylark” are excellent, and just when you think you know what to expect they throw in a great instrumental version of “The Tennessee Waltz.”

Where The Hounds really shine is the vocal selections. Covers of the traditional “Dirty Old Town” (originally written by Ewan McColl, but made famous by the Pogues) and the heartbreaking “The Foggy Dew” (about the Easter Uprising of 1916) are countered well by a romp through “Follow Me Up To Carlow” as part of “The Carlow Set.” Culann’s Hounds know where their roots are, and Year Of The Dog shows pride and heritage in every musical measure.

In short, this is great stuff. Fans of Irish music – heck, everyone who has ever had a beer – should check out Year Of The Dog today.

For more information on Culann’s Hounds, including how to order Year Of The Dog, check out


Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.