Guignol & Mischief Brew – Fight Dirty

Guignol & Mischief Brew - Fight Dirty

Guignol & Mischief Brew - Fight Dirty

Not being at all familiar with the separate work of Guignol or Mischief Brew, the bands’ collaborative release Fight Dirty strikes me as an album recorded by just one, incredibly cohesive band. I’ll further admit to not being at all familiar with the members of Guignol’s other bands (The Hold Steady, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Antony & The Johnsons, etc.), but I will say Fight Dirty absolutely makes me want to discover everything else these guys are doing.

Comparisons to other popular bands that fit in to the rag-tag ethno-mashup bunch will come easily for these two groups, but what Guignol & Mischief Brew have going is something entirely different. Does it include elements of punk, folk, Celtic, gypsy, jazz, and more? Wholeheartedly, yes! But Fight Dirty definitely stands alone. I’m floored at the number of styles these guys pull out of their musical hats, all the while delivering songs that fit together in such a perfect way that I can’t help wondering how it is they don’t always play together.

From the first few seconds of “The Tardy Barker” it’s clear this album is going to be a foot stomping hootenanny. This instrumental track sets the stage for a beautiful cacophony of songs featuring too many styles to count. The sixteen songs on Fight Dirty weave their way back and forth between purely instrumental tunes and those with lyrics – both of which are equally as engaging. As the accordion opens Guignol and Mischief Brew’s take on Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” I’m again left wondering how the hell I’ve never caught anything by these guys before. The trumpet work alone is truly amazing.

Blatant fan-girling aside, Fight Dirty is easily my pick for the most purely entertaining album of the year. While some melting pot style bands mimic whatever traditional styles they can muster with whatever they used to play (isn’t gypsy punk all the rage?), many of these groups come off sounding forced. While I have no take on the backgrounds of the members of Guignol or Mischief Brew, I have the distinct feeling that these guys have the Old World surging through their blood in tandem with their Americanness.