Great mix of tunes and songs - original, borrowed and traditional, celtic dance with underlying rock influence. Obviously this band has spent many hours sessioning. Up-tempo rock and reel for the young, and not so young...with inspiring lyrics
http://www.celticonline.org - Australia - April 2004
This quintet has produced a vibrant and engaging CD that is, as they state on their minimal liner notes, a "blend of folk and rock music based upon a driving rhythm." I am a bit more skeptical of their claim that it is "entirely non-political," as it is also "music about love and revolution, cats and dogs, exploitation and intolerance." While somewhat sliced and diced, I've just about exhausted the liner text with those few phrases. No Web site is mentioned. I must assume they are determined to let the music speak for itself, and it does so admirably. clear this planet.... immediately! has been in heavy rotation on the home stereo since it arrived. The band consists of Esch (guitars, bouzouki, vocals, percussion), Bernhardt Ruso (flutes, whistles, percussion), Andy Neumeister (guitars, bass, vocals), Klara Schiffermüller (fiddle), and Paul Dangl (fiddle, e-fiddle, backing vocals). They also credit special guests Leli and Katrin (Irish step dancing), Oliver Stein (drums) and Robert Scheiber (backing vocals). Their sound is pretty much what you might expect of a band that subtitles itself "The Rock 'N' Reel Connection." Instrumentally the most satisfying melodic leads are provided by the tight and tasty fiddles. The guitars and other fretted strings are generally used to create that "driving rhythm" they promised. The vocals are satisfying and straight forward with just a hint of their namesake, Smoky Finish. Absent a complete press packet, solely based upon their accents and material (e.g. "Erin Go Bragh," "The Queen of Argyle") one might suspect they are from Ireland. While they might sound like three parts Chieftains to one part U2, it wouldn't take much beyond a stack of Marshall amps to reverse the equation. Most American bands who tackle this type of material are far too reverential of folk "authenticity." Smoky Finish, in fact not Irish but Austrian, gets down, lets loose, and makes the tunes really come alive. I will be keeping an eye out for Smoky Finish on tour. If they can get this much spark captured on a sself produced recording I can only imagine that they'd have the audience kicking up their heels in a Rock 'N' Reel frenzy live.
Green Man CD Review, http://www.greenmanreview.com/cd/cd_smokyfinish_clearthisplanet.html, Portland - USA, January 2004
This month`s tour finishes up in Austria, home of the rock-and-reel band Smoky Finish, which sounds like a central European version of Runrig. Clear this planet....immediately (self-produced SMOFI-02, 2002) includes some familiar songs, like Andy M. Stewart`s "The Queen of Argyll" and the traditional "Blackleg Miner"", and assorted instrumentals, like the straightforwardly named "Being Drunk Set" of fiddle-and flute reels and the unconventional "Mullah Set", which projects Middle Eastern rhythms through a prominent mandolin beat. The group makes a stealthy political statement by incorporating an audio clip from President Bush into the jig medley that`s the disc`s title track. With strong harmonies and powerful instrumentals, as well as up-front social consciousness, these guys will be a pleasant surprise if you like it loud. Tom Nelligan
Dirty Linen - The magazine of folk and world music, # 109, USA, December `03/January `04
If you are wary of a band who unabashedly hail themselves as 'The Rock N'Reel Connection', I will pledge my credibility as a reviewer to abate your fears. After being unable to press the 'stop' button and hence listening to the band's latest offering, 'clear this planet... immediately', three times in a loop, I admit I'm a big fan. These guys know what they're at. Traditional tunes are infused with a fresh twist of the contemporary (listen out for the theme from 'Mission Impossible' in track 3!) and the musicianship is excellent. No wonder, for each of the members comes from a distinctly musical background, with enough training in their respective fortes to rival other more well-known transatlantic bands such as Lunasa or Solas. And hey, they're good-looking too! Esch, (guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, vocals, percussion), Bernhart Ruso (flutes, whistle, percussion), Andy Neumeister (guitars, bass, vocals), Paul Dangl (fiddle, backing vocals) and Klara Schiffermüller (hail the solo female member of the band!) on fiddle form the core members of the band. They are joined by Leli and Katrin (Irish step dancing, no less!), Oliver Stein (drums) and Robert Scheiber (backing vocals) on this album. Each track is a pleasure to listen to, but if one must choose amongst favourites, I would go for the instrumentals 'Mullah Set' (Track 7) and 'X-Prep Set' (Track 10), both of which feature Klara and Paul's exceptional fiddling. Both tracks are awesome. If you buy one album this year, this is it. And if you buy two albums this year, get a copy for your loved one.
Folkworld Magazine - www.folkworld.de