War is surely one of the strongest sources of inspiration for writers, authors and songwriters alike. The emotion poured into the thoughts of famine, poverty and violence makes for stronger and most solid material that can really reach out to the whole world, if not an already targeted country. It eventually works as a visual aphrodisiac to the heart when it comes to pop culture, whether it’s the latest, hottest book about the Iraqi invasions, or the latest, hottest movie about the 9/11 attack. Some could say it’s a gimmick to earn larger, faster profit; but rest assured, there will always be the few that reach out to the smaller, more outgoing crowds that really know what they’re talking about, and speak strongly from the heart, about the few fortunes and the many losses of war.
The Street Dogs
formed in Boston in early 2000, joined by ex-Dropkick Murphys vocalist Mike McColgan and Mighty Mighty Bosstones drummer Joe Sirois. Not enough ‘supergroup’ for the rest, but plenty enough for us. McColgan had left the Dropkicks earlier on to become a Boston firefighter. He came back and created the Street Dogs, knowing he couldn’t keep away from music forever. The band plays a style of very patriotic, Americanized punk with plenty of more modern rock rhythms and spunky licks. Back To The World
marks the sophomore release for the band, and with this they target the violence and tragedy of war, accompanied by other many, many usual punk chant-alongs (freedom, fighting, drinking…).
Back To The World
brings forward very interesting styles and few grooves to satisfy the listeners with 30 long minutes of what modern ‘punk’ was always meant to be. The patriotic spirit of the music flows freely through the music, which is mainly led by singer Mike McColgan. His words can turn arid, to sentimental, to 90’s thrash almost instantly. It’s a very original choice of words on every track, and you can see the leader’s inspiration and confidence in the music. Some of the album can pick up slight traces of British dialect from McColgan’s voice, and at times it can turn too harsh for the music’s sake, but it keeps the spirit of the music alive, as mentioned earlier, like a candle in the darkness, if you will.
Strike A Blow
, one of the album’s solid anthems, and the choice for the most essential and powerful track on the record, is an earth-shattering performance on the musicians’ part as well as McColgan’s. Balancing a powerful lead, along with very modern, original rhythms and heart-pounding chants and yells, the album starts off clean and incredibly well, with one foot forward, showing off the band’s ability to create an excellent environment for powerful material, whether it be slow or lightning-fast. Pull The Pin
and the title track share this gift as well, and really stand out with their spunky leads and rejoicing chants. Styles also head towards a small trace of reggae/dub-influenced grooves, in Stagger
, a tale about society’s weaknesses. And the all-true, nerve-wracking punk anthem, Drink Tonight
makes it’s mind blowing appearance with the fastest rhythm in the album, and a full whole minute of alcohol-induced insanity. Guitar-work can turn pretty raw and gritty in certain bridges of tracks, but it also stays true to the simple fundamentals of strong chords and solid transitions.
I haven’t heard a better example of ‘modern with influence’ than the Street Dogs so far when it comes to the touchy genre like punk. It’s not straight punk like the Murphys, neither is it bouncy, hoppy ska like the Bosstones, but it gets there, and the message stays very true. Joe Sirois from the Bosstones has very powerful, man-handling drum-tracks on the album, and while it may not be anything exceptional, the frantic, lightning-fast bits in Drink Tonight
and the steady, creative jam-beats on Stagger
and the ever-so-true anti-Bush song, Tales Of Mass Deception
always do it for me.
Back To The World
is the beginning of something new and original. It’s patriotic, unpredictable, and touching in the right occasions. You can see through the many augmentations that in the end, only old-fashioned punk is present, and is the base of the music (It’s only 30 minutes long…).
If yelling out for the clash of war and peace and the middle-class man’s struggle already got old years ago…..well, you’re just better off picking something up from the "best-selling" section of your local record store.
Mike McColgan- Vocals
Marcus Hollar- Guitar, Vocals
Johnny Rioux- Bass
Joe Sirois- Drums, Vocals
Stand Out Tracks:
Strike A Blow