Charming folk music to warm the soul, but why not throw in a bit of punk? That’s exactly what Yorkshire group Shanghai Treason have been doing since their formation in 2019. Combining the twang of the banjo with the thrash of a distorted guitar, there’s nothing quite like it.
After releasing a few singles over the last couple of years that were well-received, they now bring us their self-titled debut album which is packed with eleven songs of upbeat folk-punk fun.
Having been described as ‘fast, powerful, melodic and catchy’ before, the band certainly do not fail to meet that expectation this time around.
The first three songs, ‘Emerald Causeway’, ‘Gatling Gun’ and ‘Free Man On The Land’, all hit you right in the face with a country feel. There’s always a risk that the band could sway towards the easy choice of letting the punk guitars do all the work in songs like ‘The Fiendish Blue’ and ‘Was It You’. However, to their success, they always seem to find a way to pull it back to having the shuffling beat of folk at the music’s core.
Drafting in Ferocious Dog member Dan Booth to produce the album (who even managed to get a feature on one of the album’s most resolute songs ‘Wildfire’), the overall end product is a cohesive and enjoyable record that I think would get almost anyone up and dancing. Or, at least get their foot tapping.
It has to be said, by the time you’re moving into the second half of the album, onto songs like ‘Hero’s Welcome’ and ‘On The Ropes’, the structure of the tracks starts to feel a little bit familiar.
There’s a consistent pattern of the banjo guiding you in at the beginning, and then everything else comes in in a rush. From then on, the rest of the song is incredibly fast-paced, and it’s hard to catch your breath. You do begin to wish there was a pause for a calmer moment.
Fortunately, the final track ‘Boatman’ provides you with that moment. The distorted guitars are dropped, and the album comes to a peaceful end. It just might have been nice to have a few more of those moments to bring a bit of balance to the record.
The release of the album is a marker to kick off the band’s 16 date UK tour supporting The Rumjacks. Known for leaving crowds with a smile with their live performance, if you get a chance to see Shanghai Treason then you’d be a smart person to take it.
If you miss it then I’m sure you’ll get another chance in the near future. The band has been gaining traction for a while, and I’d make a bet that they’re only going to gain more.