The Old Smugglers – Hard Pan to Chaos

    They look like gangsters from the 1940’s, they sing about the salty sea, they play instruments that look like they were scavenged from a shipwreck, and on November 10th, 2017, The Old Smugglers revealed their 3rd album “Hard Pan to Chaos”.

     The Old Smuggler’s are a duo, The Infamous Dr. Thunder & Mister December – and it seems that’s all they need; no drummer, no bass player, although occasionally Dr. Thunder plays bass for live shows. Nonetheless, their stage performances are far from lackluster, quite the opposite. Don’t be deceived by what appears to be a stripped down act, these guys can fill a room with thick guitar tones, gravel in their throats, and fire in their eyes. This approach translates naturally from the stage to their recordings, percussion and bass are used as a more of a spice than a main ingredient. That being said, there aren’t any moments that feel hollow or as though anything is missing. Like a pirate with a broken paddle for a peg leg, a mangled coat hanger for a hook hand, and a dirty marble for a glass eye, it’s all sorts of messed up and yet that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

“…Lyrics that are sharper than sharks teeth and fueled by moonshine.”

The Infamous Dr. Thunder & Mister December

“…dare I call them a Steampunk band?”

     Hard Pan to Chaos has everything from furious squalls of noise, to slow and eerie but sometimes almost lullaby-like soothing calm sounds akin to the serenity of being on the shore of a deserted island at low tide. There is no shortage of heavy riffage or slide guitar solos. They also break out an accordion occasionally, and it fills out the depth and atmosphere of the Smugglers intricately crafted soundscapes in a downright fucking beautiful way. Lyrics that are sharper than sharks teeth and fueled by moonshine will paint imagery in your mind so vivid that I swear you can almost smell the bourbon on the microphone.

“…You can almost smell the bourbon on the microphone.”

     The Old Smugglers aren’t easily pegged into one genre, while their music certainly has anchors deep in the ocean of folk and classic rock, there are twisted roots of jazz and blues in there too, plus there’s the extra element of having a theme that sort of puts them in the realm of… dare I call them a Steampunk band? Maybe call them Folk-punk, Americana Shanty Rock, Speakeasy Indie-Rock, whatever obscure genre you eventually decide they fit into there is no denying that The Old Smugglers are genuine, authentic and unique without coming off as gimmicky. It’s the way that they look how they sound and sound how they look, and they sell it effortlessly. It’s the way they blend the sounds of old Americana folk with distorted and gnarly electrified acoustic guitars. It’s in the way they can conduct an entire room full of complete strangers to sing along together “we all walk the plank alone”, which is an oddly unifying experience. One thing is for certain, The Old Smugglers will carve a place in your heart with a rusty hook.

“The Old Smugglers will carve a place in your heart with a rusty hook.”

     The Smuggler’s recently claimed victory to a successful crowdfunding campaign (via to raise the funds to print and press Hard Pan to Chaos. The physical copy album includes a 16-page booklet filled with lyrics and original artwork created by The Old Smugglers.

This album will truly be a rare gem in your music collection, so sell your last silver tooth if you have to and buy a copy here:

Here’s a treasure chest worth of links – follow the Old Smugglers on all of their adventures:


Related Posts

Waxahatchee Performs at St. Paul’s Palace Theatre

The Paper Kites Perform At The Fine Line Cafe

Sarah Jarosz Performs at The Fine Line Music Cafe

89.3 The Current’s 19th Birthday at First Avenue

TSLN Year in Review: 2023

TroyBoi. w/ EVAN GIIA, MZG, GNDHI Perform at The Mission Ballroom