“Another Round for the Strong of Heart” by the Killigans | Album Preview

The Killigans aren’t an Irish band. Say it with me: The Killigans aren’t an Irish band.

When I went to the listening party for their new album, Another Round For the Strong of Heart, this past Sunday evening, singer Brad Hoffman wanted to make it clear what they weren’t.

“We’re not an Irish band. I mean, we are, but we aren’t, you know?”

Yeah, I know. As one of the many Killigans alumni members — a number almost in double-digits — I’ve been following the band since they started in 2004. At that time, they were clearly trying to be an “Irish drinking band.” Traditional songs, Pogues covers, and songs about drinkin’ and fightin’ made up their always raucous live sets. But with the four albums since their first EP, they have been slowly becoming a band that is tighter and stronger than that label would suggest.

interview with Speed! Nebraska's Gary Dean Davis conducted by Michael Todd on Oct. 5

While the album title might bring to mind dozens of burly, red-faced men responding “Aye!” what really separates this — their strongest effort to date — from their other albums is the detailed use of auxiliary instruments. On this album, it’s banjo, mandolin, accordion and harmonica. Songs like the upbeat “Hey Sergio!” or the gypsy-punk stomp “The Bottoms” were written with more of an eye toward the folk instruments than the electric guitar.

Instead of being used to add that bit of “Irish,” the accordion and mandolin give these songs depth and allow for more complex and varied song structure than the Killigans have previously used. Chris Nebesniak (mandolin, guitar, banjo) and brother Pat (accordion) worked to use their instruments to their full potential. The end result is a mature album full of songs with roots, eastern European and punk elements that don’t require you to be double-fisting whiskey to enjoy.

So they aren’t an Irish band anymore. But they’re still pretty good, you know?

interview with Speed! Nebraska's Gary Dean Davis conducted by Michael Todd on Oct. 5

Another Round for the Strong of Heart will be available on SPEED! Nebraska records and at thekilligans.com. Check out their CD release party on Friday at 9 p.m. at Knickerbocker’s.

Jeff Hall is a Hear Nebraska contributor and an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy. Reach him at jeffhall@hearnebraska.org.