The Stanfields Vanguard of the Young & Reckless

Given Atlantic Canada's Celtic roots and penchant for dirty throwback rock, it's amazing that the region hasn't produced many bands in the mould of Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. While Celtic punk groups tend to pop-up all over the U.S., we're left with Great Big Sea. The Stanfields aim to change that with their debut record, Vanguard of the Young & Reckless. "The Dirtiest Drunk (in the History of Liquor)" alone should carry the band for years, challenging Spirit of the West's "Home for a Rest" as the national drinking anthem. Their best songs lean on their Clash influences, spitting out chugging guitar riffs and East Coast sloganeering like the ghost of Joe Strummer. But many of the songs also go on for too long, most likely due to the group cutting their teeth in Atlantic Canada's vibrant bar scene. And the more straight-ahead hard rock moments, while sure to get them played on oh-so conservative modern rock radio stations, dull the group's edge. It's also worrisome for the future: which direction are this band headed in? Regardless, we should appreciate the Stanfields for what they are now: a hard-drinking good time. (Groundswell)