REVIEW - HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS “Here’s the Thunder Lads!” Troubadour Music (2011)

The Handsome Young Strangers “Here’s the Thunder Lads!” Troubadour Music
Release date: 14 November 2011
Running time: 65:25, 17 tracks (10 + 7 unreleased + out of print bonus tracks)

Handsome Young Strangers is a colonial bush punk band from Sydney, Australia. Bassist Jim Mongrel comes from Sydney City Trash , mandolin and tenor banjo player Adam Kenny is a Rumjacks member and ex-Roaring Jack accordionist Steph Miller and ex-Catgut Mary and ex-Rumjacks accordionist and tin whistle player Will Swan guest on the album. Then HYS are a sort of Aussi supergroup that has been  travelling Australia since 2005.

Here’s the Thunder Lads!” is a genuine Aussie album. Seven tracks are traditional songs, another one is an Eric Bogle’s anti-war song (“Green Fields of France” aka “No Man’s Land”), another one is a Bee Gees song (“New York Mining Disaster 1941”, a song that was covered by The Levellers on their “Zeitgeist Out-takes” freebie album) and eight tracks have been written by the band’s songwriters, Freddo Donkin and Driza Dickinson. So, the songs subjects are about bushrangers, pubs, shearers, Australian heroes …

I feel that their renditions of the traditional songs are more raucous than their self-penned songs. Or, in other words, some of their own numbers show a quieter musical side. “Lachlan Tigers” , “The Overlander”, “Woolloomooloo Lair” (even if the beginning is quiet calm) and “Ryebuck Shearer” can be filed together with Jackflash. On the other side, “Sweet as a Nut” (a song about how the pubs are losing their identity) and the trad . song “Street of Forbes” are closer to Weddings Parties Anything. And “Melbourne Town”, with the mandolin and fiddle, can be compared to The Mahones “Back Home”.

IMHO, the most interesting tracks on the album are “Thunderbolt”, “Sweet as a Nut”, “Melbourne Town” and “Shane Warne”. The album is an excellent balance between covers and self-penned songs. The bush songs are great, but I feel that the stronger material on the album is their own one.

The band has waited 5 years to release their debut album. However, the wait has paid off. A brilliant selection of guest musicians (Crystal Loneragan on fiddle, Matt Galvin on guitar, Pete Kelly on trumpet …) and a fantastic artwork and booklet. Excellent pictures, drawings and a front cover that is not really the real one… a real labour of love.

Handsome Young Strangers say that they are inspired by the likes of Wedding Parties Anything, The Bushwackers and Redgum. They share those influences with Jackflash and their songs deal with the same themes. But, if you listen carefully to their songs, you will find a different musical vision of the Aussie world.


01 – Thunderbolt
02 – Sweet as a Nut
04 – Murrurundi
06 – Handsome Young Stranger
08 – Melbourne Town
10 – The Lady Penrhyn


11 – New York Mining Disaster
14 – Weary Dunlop
16 – Green Fields of France
17 – Shane Warne

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Review by Kinksmarkham


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