Review Summary: Goes beyond being just a drinking album.
"The Real McKenzies" are a Scottish-influenced Celtic punk band founded in Vancouver, Canada in 1992. The band has even been referred to as the most underrated band in the world by NOFX frontman, Fat Mike himself. While "The Real McKenzies" are obviously going to draw comparisons to the more popular "Dropkick Murphys" and "Flogging Molly," the Vancouver-based, kilt-wielding drunks have actually been around longer. 'Oot and Aboot' is their second voyage through Scotland's countryside, released through Fat Wreck's subsidiary, Honest Dons label. It's also surprising that as fun as this band is, it's very rare that I hear anyone mention them. It is made obvious right from the get-go that drinking is a theme that 'Oot and Aboot' covers all too well. Vocalist Paul McKenzie even sounds like he had a few too many prior to recording, but that only adds to the feel-good vibe that the album radiates. "Droppin' Like Flies" is a tribute to punks of past days. The band puts their own style into traditional Scot songs such as "Ye Banks and Braes" and "Heather Bells". Unfortunately, the title track is the album's one weak point, save the unexpected guitar solo. "Jennifer Que" has another great guitar solo with a Matt Freeman (Rancid) influenced bassline. The rest of the album is more of the same - fun, hook-filled, drunken punk. If only they'd used the bagpipes more, though. Oot and Aboot is probably the best punk-rock record I've heard in a while, definitely up there with some of my favourite releases from the likes of "The Flatliners" and "The Dropkick Murphys" but sadly, the bands name is never mentioned within the scene of either band. It seems that "Honest Dons" is notorious for playing host to many great bands, full of potential and yet, fails to make them known.
The album kicks off with what you would expect, catchy vocals and metallic melody but with a punky edge to it. "Get Lost", is my favorite song on the album. This time the bagpipes by Matt MacNasty are more evident, but the vocals are by far the most prominent, and once again quite catchy. The pace of the track changes from time to time always at the right moment and by the right amount. Telling someone to go, get lost, and join a punk rock band. A short song, but a perfect punk rock melody. "Dance Around The Whisky", is another track which I really like. It has a more of a "real" feeling to it. A song about drinking beer and having a fun time, but with pub sounds in the background, makes you envision yourself actually being there. It also has another different feel to it as it is mostly just an acoustic track.
In theory, it seems that "The Real McKenzies" have set out to do for Scottish folk what the Pogues did for Irish folk: give a cheerful boot up the ol' arse. It is true that the album is not without it's faults but it's a large step in the right direction. "The Real McKenzies" deliver the goods with unpretentious charm and a refreshing sense of humor on Oot & Aboot.