10 of 10 thought this review was well written
Flogging Molly- Swagger
A debut album holds the raw sound that a band would eventually set itís foundation on for the albums that eventually follow. All of these albums hold the true soul of the band, and in most cases, if the band turns out to be a hit of course, these types of albums are treasured as the musiciansí milestone in the industry. The way I see it, this is true in most cases, and seems like it will continue to be for some time to follow. And then came along Flogging Molly, with one hell of a punch in the face to start off the millennium. In 2000, the seven-piece wonder broke through speakers and delivered their debut album Swagger
. To save you band history this time around, I will say that this is right off the bat the bandís best work, and before they slowly removed some very important components to their sound in their following albums, they managed to hit the perfect spot with their debut. For one thing, their original guitarist packed a bigger punch than the second, and provided this album with the bigger punk backdrop than any other album by the band. This album holds plenty of variety, and it is quickly recognized by the melodies that hit you in the first few seconds of each track.
Immediate props to the band for starting their career with such a bizarre, yet welcoming song. A strong recommendation, the opening track Salty Dog
shows that the band came to have a good time, and will leave happy, even if you donít. It also follows to other tracks that shift in moods and compositions. While they will always stick to their foundation of the rule I like to call ďfolk instruments first", the line is drawn and the leave vocalist Dave King and the other gang of three to fill in the gaps with beyond-brilliant work that belongs to the album and the album only. To start out with the ďrockies", the trio pulls off the trick in nearly every track with guitarist John Donovan leading the way if a mandolin or violin isnít, which isnít very frequent, but Donovan will always join in later for spicing up the mix. The deal with the guitar-work in this is that its just brilliant. For people that are used to the band but had never heard this album before, theyíll find it quite strange that after every breezy, humble bridge, comes a perfectly-arranged solo to finish off the song. Donovan is the best of the best in the punk section as far as that goes, and gives the other two something to follow. Check Life In A Tenement Square
and Black Friday Rule
for Donovanís best work on this album.
Bassist Nathen Maxwell and drummer George Schwindt donít fall too far, standing fairly strong for a rhythm section. Nathan provides the hoppy, often simple line that always seems to align with the mandolin and violin and sometimes tin whistles, and paves the way for Scwindt to invade with what always seems to be the same rapid-fire beat, but with some hidden variables inside. The use of the bass-drum is important in these tracks, and isnít very loudly heard on Schwindtís part. Devilís Dance Floor
and Black Friday Rule
include the sectionís strongest potential, and a foot-tapping bass-line and the right bass-drum arrangements always seem to deliver quite nicely. As the ďrockies" provide the harsh more influenced portion of the albumís sound, our dear friends at the folk department dominate with both talent and the grace that is engulfed in these songs measure after measure. The lovely Bridget Regan always leads in this folk section with possibly the number-one instrument that shows the most in the full-time history of the band, the violin. Also carrying a cello and a tin whistle at times, Regan to me is without a doubt the best musician to be a part of the band, except for guitarist John Donovan on this album. Sheís the foundation, the aura, and the gold in every track, providing the sound that will always mix with Kingís vocals to create what got to be Flogging Molly to this day. That said, I cant possibly pick out her highlights on the album, as every song will contain some consistence of what gets it to rise above on her part. May I add, sheís also pretty fucking hot.
Donít think sheís everything
that consists of the folk section, but she certainly damn does her part. Right behind is the man behind the accordion, Matt Hensley. While most of the time, Hensley will get drowned out by others, or sometimes not even included at all, he sports some great melodies that stick to Reganís work often and just add to the more foreign feel most song tend to give off. His unexpected lead on Sentimental Johnny
is Hensleyís highlight and is always highly appreciated, although the song isnít a highlight itself. Another high-appreciated wonder of the band, Robert Shmidt goes at his mandolin like no one else can. In most cases, he will tread softly with Donovanís upcoming riff in hand, and gets gradually louder as Donovan actually comes in with the requested material. Like Regan, Schmidt isnít one to have a highlight on the album, as he always fills in the gaps very beautifully, and delivers in such a fashion that itís as if heís not there, yet heís giving off the fuel the band constantly feeds on. As far as Georgeís little brother, Gary Schwindtís small part goes, he does a good job in the small parts he has to attend in bridges and intros to the more festive songs. Blends in, while making a name for itself at the front of your speakers.
Dave King. Bow to the man that brought to you what is now and forever has been Flogging Molly, and what comes up with just about everything. Heís the brain, the mastermind. Heís the big daddy behind everything the album has to do with music, period. That being said, Dave King holds the potential that gives the band the biggest sign and clue that the band hails from Ireland and his marvel at vocals can almost leave me speechless at times. Not to make it sound epic or anything, but having to be the one to build up all these songs from scratch, and at the end, still doing more than okay at your own position, is fairly hard. Itís certainly been done before, but itís quite difficult, no doubt about that. While at times holding a nice, small acoustic in his hands, King ascends to entertain in every song he shares a part in. Grace Of God Go I
is a big vocal solo in which he shows off his talent to the ones that before couldnít see. Other than that, itís been proven that everything else is a highlight. As howls, yelling, and sometimes unexplainable vocals show on the top, and his more sentimental lyrics lay low, to be uncovered by the listeners, Dave King is what powers everything else, and still holds as much rowdy energy on-stage as any other middle-aged, five-foot-two Irish man can.
Forming the powerhouse of sound at the very center of the musical composition of the album, the musicians put the tracks in the order and variety that makes it maybe twice as enjoyable as each lone melody would be on itís own. This album is a debut to remember, and stands very strong in the bandís collection as their very best work. If the smart, often humorous lyrics donít get you, then Iím pretty damn sure everything else will.
Dave King- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Bridget Regan- Violin, Tin Whistle
John Donovan- Electric Guitar
Matt Hensley- Accordion
Nathen Maxwell- Bass
Bob Schmidt- Mandolin
Gary Schwindt- Trumpet
George Schwindt- Drums
Stand Out Tracks:
*Selfish Man- The Dave King true story about an old habit, compelled by a driven rhythm section, and a spice of life by guitarist John Donovan
*The Likes Of You- A sad story turned into a celebration set ablaze by a harsh set of vocals, and an over-the-top violin to follow.
*Black Friday Rule- Ground-breaking punk opera, with ignitions of foreign roots and Irish spunk to become into one of the bandís best scores.
*Devilís Dance Floor- Moody, compelling tale about a myth come true, brought to life by Kingís vocals, and astonishing musical arrangement.