Beer is every Irish man’s alcoholic beverage of choice. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s got a strong, distinct taste, and it is very filling. Not to mention, it’s inexpensive. Ah, the wonders of cheap beer. Concert goers love the stuff, because its abundance seems to overwhelm anything else at a concert. So drunk Irish men, and concert lovers have one big common factor- Beer. How much more perfect could this match be? And if the music that these drunk Irish people made was influenced by the people who watch them play, what would the music sound like? The answer is- the genre of Celtic Punk. Two heavy hitters of the genre in America, Los Angeles’ Flogging Molly, depend on a much more folksy approach, while Boston’s Dropkick Murphys take a more punk (and drunk) approach to their brand of Irish rock music. The latter of the two, Dropkick Murphys love to love their fans. Not JUST because they drink beer, but because they understand what it is like to be a fan. That’s why they put on a notorious live show where they allow their fans to sing their songs with them onstage. Their performances are filled with raw energy that is not violent, but uplifting and benevolent. And while their performances make up for anything their music lacks, the music itself is not at all bad. They use harsh, growling vocals and catchy melodies that blend punk and folk in a memorable manner. Making a start in 1995, Dropkick Murphys saw an array of lineup changes, including their founding lead singer leaving, to be replaced with Al Barr, and Piper Spicy McHaggis being replaced by ‘Scruffy’ Wallace. But the Dropkicks have always seen their main songwriter, bassist/ vocalist Ken Casey, who- in addition to providing his coarse vocals- writes most of the songs that the band has released. In 2003, after a string of well received albums, the Dropkick Murphys recorded their fifth (maybe fourth, I can’t count today) full length record, titled after their cover of a Woody Gunthrie song ‘Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight’. Blackout was probably the most well received, and hooky album the Dropkicks had released to that point (Warriors Code is much better, but was recorded two years later). And what better is an Irish punk album than with an accompaniment of beer?
Blackout is a painstakingly raw listen, with the range of songwriting varying from epic war cries to jolted punk anthems. Al Barr and Ken Casey duel on vocal duties, adding a mystifying effect to the music that adds a splash of groove, in the most volatile way possible. Al’s voice, for instance is very deep and growly, while Ken Casey’s is a harsh, throaty yelp that sounds as if he were spitting wads of saliva into the microphone. A particularly cool vocal addition to Blackout would be the guest appearance of Stephanie Dougherty (Dirty Glass) where a storyline is portrayed between Dougherty, Casey, and Barr. According to the grapevine, it is a tale of an underage drinker who falls for his bartender, and gets left out to rot. The addition of this cool, yet hatred filled love tale is probably the closest that the Dropkicks came to getting a wide ranged audience with one song, because of Dougherty’s vocals. Accordingly, the music behind it is very upbeat and vigorous, with a folksy pop appeal to it. The vocal duties, however, are not limited to the two frontmen of the band. One of the Dropkicks’ strongest points is that the entire band sings the choruses to all their songs unanimously. This adds a feeling of unison between the band members, and gives off a perception that the band really know and love each other.
Another key feature to Dropkick Murphys distinctive sound is their incorporation of Scottish music into an Irish band. The bagpipes often carry the melody of their songs, with exceptions only on the heavier numbers. In fact, both the bagpipes, and mandolin/banjo provide most of the foundation for their songs. The quality between the distorted guitars sneering and a cheerful sounding folk section juxtaposed with mandolins, banjo, bagpipes, accordion and tin whistles is not a gloom feeling at all. In fact, if you are feeling grievances, Dropkicks can actually be an inspirational. The song choice can range from an epic prison tale of love (Fields of Athenry), an anthem for the working class (Worker’s Song) , Hockey fight songs (Time To Go), and Military Raids (Blackout) to barroom brawls (Kiss Me I’m ***faced, Bastards on Parade). Lyrically is where Blackout is mediocre, and in a few songs, it lacks appeal in melody. Even though the lyrics provide a very catchy pop appeal and idealistic rhyme pattern, the depth is quite shallow. With the exception of a few songs on here, some lyrics were thrown in just to provide a rhyme for the structure, without an awkward phrasing.
Blackout is not a bad album at all, but does not live up to the expectations that Sing Loud, Sing Proud and Do Or Die had made precedent. There seems to be a hit or miss ‘well liked’ factor on Blackout. Some songs are great, and others are mediocre. Especially because there are four covers on the album, leaving only ten originally written tunes. Unfortunately, lyrically, Blackout does not uphold to be as strong as other Dropkicks albums, but Blackout is still fun to listen to.
|other reviews of this album|
Album Rating: 3.5
Schweet. Excellent writing, but the beef I had with this was the score. That jolt you want from the band only hits me ever so often in this album. It's substance is very scattered about, and it's hard to get on board sometimes. I love Time to Go, the title track, and Fields of Athenry. You hit the rating in the right spot.
This adds a feeling of unison between the band members, and gives off a perception that the band really know and love each other.
Eheh. The Kid.This Message Edited On 03.16.06
Album Rating: 3.0
I love you, too. The reason i gave it a 3 is because there are only a handful of songs that are actually great. The rest are either just good or mediocre.
Album Rating: 4.0
This is definitely more than a three. The writing was good, but I completely disagree with you're opinion in your second comment.
Album Rating: 3.5
Heh, you guys are really in to celtic rock these days.
Why, you ask?
I had a funny feeling I had gotten in the action last Monday. ;)
The brown kid in the middle seems to be sporting a great position.
I haven't gotten into DKM as much as others on this site, but they are good nonetheless. Excellent review as usual.
Album Rating: 3.5
i like this ablum its easy listenin and fun, think it deserved a higher rating but good writing all in all
Album Rating: 4.5
Quite frankly, this was rather depressing, obviously not written by a true DKM fan. SE Boston forever! Sure, the vocals are mediocre, if not scratchy and unpleasant. But Blackout remains one of my favorite Murphy's albums. You have to understand the culture to get the lyrics. It's a lot of fun boisterous pub rock, and thats what keeps me coming back time and time again. Also check out Flogging Molly, and Dockside Heroes for more A+ Irish punk.
And the Irish use bagpipes too, retard. Originally they had Spicy McHaggis (check out his jig) and now they have scruffy. I see them every time they come to town. Still some of the most memorable and enjoyable shows I've been to
Album Rating: 3.0
He's not worth arguing with.
But thank you for the informative lesson on irish music, especially that your IQ is equal to the grammatical error you made in your rant.
Wait, that's too high for you. Tard.
Album Rating: 4.0
[quote=KickAssIrishStyle]Quite frankly, this was rather depressing, obviously not written by a true DKM fan. SE Boston forever! Sure, the vocals are mediocre, if not scratchy and unpleasant. But Blackout remains one of my favorite Murphy's albums. You have to understand the culture to get the lyrics. It's a lot of fun boisterous pub rock, and thats what keeps me coming back time and time again. Also check out Flogging Molly, and Dockside Heroes for more A+ Irish punk.[/quote]
Would it be bad if I agreed with him?
My favourite Dropkick album, highlights are Blackout, Walk Away and Time to Go.