Even though Dropkick Murphys may have rebranded to “The Dropkick Murphys” this is still the same band of Boston scally punks we know and love. Dropkick Murphys have kind of reached that AC/DC plateau when it comes to new releases – there are no surprises – you get what you expect and no matter what the Murphys put out the new release will always be compared (unfairly) to their genre defining early releases.
Turn Up That Dial is The Dropkick Murphys 10th studio album, in AC/DC terms it should be their Blow Up Your Video. I’m glad to say Turn Up That Dial is a much better release then AC/DCs 10th effort (except for the classic Heatseeker). In fact, Turn Up That Dial is a really solid release, it’s classic DKM sing along, chant it out, Celtic-punk – no surprises as expected (or wanted). Turn Up That Dial is a stronger release then 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory and holds itself well up against releases by the various young pretenders to the Celtic-punk crown.
The pre-release single, Mick Jones Nicked My Pudding is a great fighting piece of Celtic street punk as is Smash Shit Up. Chosen Few, a call to unity, reminds me of a punkie version of Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. L-EE-B-O-Y is a lot of foot stomping piping fun (and a better song about a piper then “The Spicy McHaggis Jig)
What’s missing though is that one outstanding track, Shipping Up to Boston or Rose Tattoo or even a Heatseeker to make this a classic. Still a fine album.
The Rumjacks new release, Hestia, is easily the most anticipated Celtic-punk release of 2021. After the drama of original vocalist, Frankie McLaughlin, being booted in April, twelve months ago and his replacement by American, Mike Rivkees, of Mickey Rickshaw fame, the entire Celtic-punk world has been waiting to hear this album.
I’ve been listening to Hestia a lot since it dropped last month as I wanted to give it a fair and not rushed review. So, how does it sound? Like The Rumjacks of old – aggressive Celtic-punk, though maybe a slightly cleaner sound then before. The album burst out of the gate, with the speedy, Naysayer and continues in a fast paced, aggressive style (with more than the occasional Ska undertone) that we are accustomed to from The Rumjacks.
And how about Mike? He is stepping into big doc martens. Now, I’ve seen Mike live fronting Mickey Rickshaw and he’s a great front man. His vocals aren’t as distinctively hard lived as Frankie’s (which I really liked) but they fit right into the songs on Hestia. Mike is a fine replacement for Frankie and hopefully he can get them to the next level – whatever that means.
Palace Of The Fiend, the 2017 release by The Peelers was an absolute masterpiece, one of the best Celtic-punk albums ever made. Having played Palace Of The Fiend almost daily over the last three years it makes it difficult for me to objectively review Down and out in the City of Saints. So to be fair, I’m going to pretend I’ve never heard the Peelers before and review Down and out in the City of Saints like it’s a debut release.
Down and out in the City of Saints is an album full of big dirty-fuzzy guitars, thumping bass, growling vocals, fast and powerful street punk with great hooks and Celtic undertones. This is relentless, fighting music – both bare-knuckle and Queensbury rules. Lead single, Prizefight, grabs you hard and beats you around the head into submission. The bagpipe laden, Spirits Seldom Sober, is an ode to the hard-drinking life. Stick and Move (Spike O’Sullivan), packs a punch as hard as anything the Celtic Warrior, Spike O’Sullivan, can throw. The Last Glass, slows things down (just a little) before The Peelers are back to full force Celtic-punk with, Harder They Fall, and no matter how hard they fall The Peelers, pick themselves back up and keep swinging.
Down and out in the City of Saints is a really great piece of Celtic-punk rock. As good as Palace Of The Fiend? Maybe. I need to live with, Down and out in the City of Saints, for a while before I can really judge – I’ll let you know next year.
Long running, two piece, Minnesota based Irish folk-punk band, The Langer’s Ball, always manages to surprise. Fortunately on, Appetite for Tradition, they don’t “surprise” us with an album of Guns’n’Roses covers given a Celtic twist but surprise us with a collection of pure Irish traditional music, Airs, Jigs and Reels, and they do this very, very well. Maybe the most authentic traditional Irish music west of the Mississippi (assuming they are actually west of the Mississippi). In all there are 34 different tunes broken down into 14 tracks. Very enjoyable.
1990 – 2020 means 30 years (!!!) of one of the original and greatest of all the Celtic-punk bands, The Mahones. Starting out from the back room of a pub in Kingston, Ontario, The Mahones have brought their own brand of Celtic-punk to a world wide fan base. To celebrate reaching middle age, The Mahones have released, This Is All We Got To Show For It, on glorious green vinyl. While this is not the first best of….. from The Mahones, it is the first on wax and the first opportunity we have to hear almost all of the songs here on vinyl.
Side one opens with the monstrous Shakespeare Road and its classic after classic till Celtic Pride closes-out side B. While long time fans may argue about what songs were included and what were excluded (where is The Queen and Tequila?), the 10 tracks here perfectly sum up the best of 30 years. This is a limited edition release so get it before it’s gone and hopefully the entire back catalog gets a vinyl release someday.
Too Cow to Punk is a 37 track digital career retrospective from original Nashville cowpunk, Pete Berwick. I’ve reviewed Pete a few times before and I’m a big fan of his stuff – if you like your country to be outlaw with a big dose of punk rock attitude and sound then Pete’s the man. I’ve said before, that Pete Berwick is the soundtrack to a honky-tonk brawl and not only has he brought the sound but he’s packing the big city knuckledusters.
So this CD has been sitting in my review pile for quite a bit and for whatever reason I wasn’t enthused about giving it a spin – I don’t know why, but I must have been judging the CD by the cover and expecting some pedestrian folk rock. Well today I finally cracked Veracity open and gave it a spin. 10 seconds into the opener, Rabbit, and my jaw had dropped and I’m totally stunned by the explosion of folk-punk I’ve just been battered about the head by. I can only describe this as the banjo kid from the movie Deliverance supping moonshine with the MacManus Gang (aka The Pogues) from Alex Cox’s Straight to Hell while raising plain ol’ hell. A great debut and I’m kicking myself for not playing sooner.
Now from Brisbane, Australia, we have some serious DIY stuff from the Dangerous Folk – a CDR and typed up track listing. The 5 songs on offer on #1 are also seriously good old school punk with strong folk undercurrents. Check out their ode to their hometown (and the Dropkick Murphys), Shipping up to Brisbane
Rascals & Rogues is the debut album from Aussie band Medusa’s Wake. What we have here is very solid DIY folk punk with influences from both the Irish and Australian tradition as well as seafaring shanties. Fellow Sydney band The Rumjacks are an obvious comparison but these guys are not Johnny-come-latelies as I hear The Pogues, The Dubliners and especially the much missed 80s Celt-punks and Sydneysider, Roaring Jack in their sound. Looking forward to hearing more Medusa’s Wake.
Is it really 20 years!! Seriously? To me Swagger is the album that started the Celtic punk scene. Sure the Pogues were the first Celtic-punk band but there was not a real scene before Flogging Molly exploded with Swagger. Even the Dropkick Murphys were still a street punk band in scally caps back then. The 20th Anniversary Edition box set is a really nice package – Swagger as a double LP on red and white colored vinyl including the bonus Juan El Sentimental. A six track live EP on blue splatter vinyl from 2001 with mostly previously unreleased traditional stuff. A DVD of Swagger live from 2000 and various goodies – lyric book, buttons, record player pad. In all a very, very nice package.