Release Date: December 11, 2013
Run Time: 38:56
1. March of the Cameron Men
2. The Only One
3. Larimer Street
4. Acacia McCrae
5. Wind That Shakes the Barley
6. Gator Waltz
7. No One Goes
8. Billy McConnell
9. Skara Brae
The McCraes Battalion band, from San Francisco, is still in its youth, formed just two years ago, but they’re wasting no time with the release of their debut album. The four members of the group come from various backgrounds and each brings a special talent and influence. Together the music fuses several styles including folk, punk, and traditional Irish music.
Fraser McGill leads the vocals and he also plays the banjo and adds harmonica to the rich texture. Kristen Vandling, the only female member of the group drives the folk presence with her additions of fiddle, mandolin, and bouzouki. Colin Hall plays the bass and guitar while Drew Mayo specializes on the drums and auxiliary percussion.
Across the small ensemble you see a wide variety of talents which mix together seamlessly. Additionally, the group orchestrates each song independently to showcase specific details in their music. You won’t hear Kristin playing the bouzouki in every piece but when it’s there it really shines.
There were several artists that inspired the Battalion’s first album and these sources of inspiration stemmed from various musical backgrounds. The Pogues, Bob Dylan, and The Clash drove the rock and roll elements into the music of the Battalion with a punk twist.
Their music seems to resonate straight from Ireland and Scotland, where two band members emigrated from. The music drives forward with a passionate battle cry in pieces like Billy McConnell and March of the Cameron Men while also achieving softer, sweeter tones in songs like The Only One and No One Goes. One of the group’s most notable strengths lies in their ability to create music that draws on different emotions while never losing the core of their sound and musical identity.
McCraes Battalion has all of the ingredients that are necessary to make a great album, and it comes together quite nicely. The band has delivered a decent debut album, Armistice Day, and it leaves much to be desired. Showing their potential and charisma as a group, their next album will certainly be one to look forward to, and also to see how the band evolves.