Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Review

dkm signed and sealed in bloodThe eagerly awaited Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood just came out. I took a half day off work so I could pick up the physical CD in addition to my digital download using my Xbox Music subscription. I have been listening to it just about non-stop since 8 this morning. While I certainly don’t expect any of the Murphys to read my little blog, it is not for them I write this for, but for myself and the fans of Celtic Punk and Rock.

From the opening of “The Boys Are Back” you are catapulted with the raucous speed DKM is known for and singing along with the chorus. “Prisoners Song” continues the rapid rocking bringing about hard foot stomping and head banging with the DKM trademark style. “Rose Tattoo” is my favorite on the album, with the clear traditional influence being borrowed but not overpowering. While instrumentally not their hardest rocking song, the vocals are extremely powerful. “Burn” ramps the instruments back up and delivers a frantically rocking song. “Jimmy Collins Wake” is an ode to a famed baseball player of the Boston Americans. It is another foot taper though not as fast as the other songs on the album. “The Seasons Upon Us” is a Christmas song about a dysfunctional family of misfits and annoying relatives. “The Battle Rages On” brings the speed back up after the last two slower songs. “Don’t Tear Us Apart” is another melodic song that when you really listen has some deep lyrics. “My Hero” is another ode, this time to on ode and praise to the “old man”. “Out On The Town” is fun hopping song, sure to get you moving! “Out of Our Heads” is another chorus (or should I say shouting) joining song. The album ends with “End of The Night”, bringing a slower pace and well placed as the last song. The song is a great farewell song in my opinion, joining the likes “The Parting Glass” and “Health To The Company”.

This year looks to be a great year of Celtic Punk and Rock releases with Lexington Field and Sir Reg’s albums set to come out within the next few months and DKM has set the bar high for this upcoming year. Signed and Sealed in Blood is trademark Dropkick Murphys – good solid lyrics, great instrumentation and punk rough vocals. I did find the beginning of the album to be the strongest with the first four songs being my favorite. The latter 7 songs were all solid but lacking the magic I found in the beginning. I would be quite surprised not to see this album on the end of year Top Of lists come December.

Track listing:

  1. The Boys Are Back
  2. Prisoners Song
  3. Rose Tattoo
  4. Burn
  5. Jimmy Collins Wake
  6. The Seasons Upon Us
  7. The Battle Rages On
  8. Don’t Tear Us Apart
  9. My Hero
  10. Out On The Town
  11. Out of Our Heads
  12. End of The Night

Slainte!

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Dropkick Murphys New Album release – A great way to start the year

Awesome news on one of many expected great releases for 2013!

From http://www.dropkickmurphys.com/2012/10/17/new-album-signed-and-sealed-in-blood-coming-january-8/

Dropkick Murphys are excited to announce the official January 8 release of their forthcoming album, SIGNED and SEALED in BLOOD, via Born and Bred Records. The album is the band’s second with producer Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Old Crow Medicine Show), which was recorded at Boston’s Q Division studios and mixed by Joe Chiccarelli (The White Stripes). “We had such a great time writing our last album, Going Out In Style, we were excited to get back into the studio right away,” says bassist and co-lead singer Ken Casey. “Where Going Out In Style was a concept album — kind of intricate and difficult — this one is catchy, fun, and as sing-along as can be.”

A Great Fall

This fall is going to be great! I love fall to begin with, the crisp, chilly air, the leaves changing colors gives a perfect excuse to hop in the car and drive nowhere plus Thanksgiving! This fall though has the added bonus of some great shows and album releases.

This upcoming weekend will be the Weston Irish Festival with Langer’s Ball, The Mickey Finns, Flannigan’s Right Hook and many more, including the musician that really got me into Irish music, Eddie Delahunt. Hopefully I will be able to find the gas money in old pockets and between couch cushions to make the 5 hour drive to Weston, MO.

There is also the must see concert with the Dropkick Murphys and the Mahones, who are rolling through St Louis on Halloween night. I plan on being with my kids that night, so instead, I will be traveling 3 hours to Urbana, IL to see them in November. Speaking of November, Black 47 will be playing in St Louis on November 3rd.

Other than the live shows, there are two highly anticipated albums set for release. The Mahones are set to release Angels & Devils on November 13th and the Killigans are releasing Another Round for the Strong of Heart on October 26th. Looks like more couch scrounging for me! From what I have heard of the teasers from Paddy Rock’s last podcast, these should be fantastic!

So a great fall is coming, and hopefully there will be some stuff I don’t even know about right now that will make it that much better!

Slainte

The Muck Savages – My New Years Gift To You

Happy New Year! 2011 has been a great year for me as a music fan. I started my blog earlier this year to try to help bands get more exposure and to hopefully be a resource for like-minded individuals wanting to find new bands in the Celtic Punk/Rock genre.

I have worked on helping out St. Louis locals Rusty Nail by going to more shows than I can count and have talked them up here and on Facebook. I also got to see Cutthroat Shamrock and The Dropkick Murphys twice this year in addition to my almost nonstop trip to Columbus, OH and back for the Shamrock N Roll Fest where I got to see The Mahones, The Bloody Irish Boys, Street Dogs, Stiff Little Fingers, Parkington Sisters, Chuck Ragan and my second experience of DKM. I also got to see Murder the Stout along with the Street Dogs for a second time. I have also made friends outside of the States with great bands like Between The Wars, Ramshackle Army, Sir Reg and Mr. Irish Bastard. I hope 2012 continues with the great support I have gotten and given and I wish all bands the greatest success.

As my present to you, I want to introduce you to The Muck Savages. A raw, hard rocking band from Oklahoma City, OK. I hope 2012 brings me the opportunity to see these guys live. If you go their website, you can download their 4 track demo and 7 track EP Golden Molly for FREE! That is right, these have their music up for free, so grab some tracks and enjoy! Once you are on their website, just click on the Music link.

From their Demo, they have a great version of Come Out Ye Black and Tans along with my favorite We The People that starts with the preamble and quickly ramps into a great Irish inspired song with drive and energy.

From the Golden Molly EP, the stand out for me is Michael O’Malley. While not has hard-driving as some their other songs, the story of Michael O’Malley even touches my cynical heart. Fighting Man is another song that I have enjoyed – it is one of those great songs when you are in a “fuck you” mood and have the music burn your anger off after a long hard day.

But don’t take my word for it, you have nothing to lose since these guys are giving their music away. Give em a listen and enjoy! Hopefully I will be able to get myself down to OKC or they can get up to St. Louis so I can support them in person and buy some swag from them – I think the Paddy Wagon is in need of a Muck Savages sticker if I can find the room.

 

 

30 Days Later…Shamrock N Roll Fest!

Wow, what a busy and hectic last month! (Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details.) As some of you who have been following my erratic postings know, last month I made a road trip from St. Louis, MO to Columbus, OH to go the Shamrock N Roll Fest. It was a trip that involved about 15 hours of total driving, 7 hours of great music, an hour picking up some Great Lakes beer (sadly, not sold in Missouri) and about 3 hours sleeping in a rest area.

The trip was a solo experience as I was unable to find a companion that could go with me. My day started with taking my daughter and her friend to school – which involved me leaving an hour later than I had wanted to, but I thought it would be ok; I just would not have much wiggle room (and that was before I realized I was going to lose an hour for time zone differences!) For the most part, the trip was pretty uneventful. It gave me time to listen to the new Bloody Irish Boys who I had learned the day before were going to be playing. That meant I would be able to scratch off two bands from my “I would love to see them play live, but I most likely won’t” list.

After dealing with construction through most of Illinois and parts of Indiana, I arrived into Columbus about 2:30, with the gates opening at 4:30. So thanks to the wonderful invention of gps and smartphones, I was able to make a trip to Whole Foods (my wife works at the one near our house and they have a great employee discount) to pick up some Great Lakes beer. I picked up some Dortmunder for the wife and the Octoberfest to try something new (their Christmas Ale is out of this world, by the way!) As I went to check out, I learned that the state of Ohio does not allow employee discounts on booze. Had I known that, I probably could have saved myself some time.

From Whole Foods, I then hauled tail to Lifestyles Community Pavillion, parked and headed to the gate where I was about 10th in line. 30 minutes later we were inside and I got a look at where I would be spending the next 7 hours. The venue has no seats, just an open-pit in front of the stage and lawn seating. They had set up a second stage for the evening so they could get the seven acts in with minimal downtime between if you did not mind shuffling between the two (yeah, guess who didn’t mind?!).

Right near the entrance they had the merchandise tents which I quickly dropped some hard-earned cash. Being the efficient man (read: lazy bastard) I am, I went straight down the line. I picked up some Street Dogs stickers for the back of the PaddyWagon (which had been looking a bit bare), then onto the Dropkick Murphys tent to get a Shamrock N Roll Festival t-shirt. I was sad to learn they had no stickers since I had lost the one I got when they played in St. Lou back in March. Undeterred, I moved next in line for the Bloody Irish Boys where I picked up 2 square stickers, and, after I told Shayne Underwood that I was going to be put them on my car, he let me have an actual bumper sticker for free! Thank you again, Shayne!

Next to them was The Mahones. I already knew I was getting one of their t-shirts. Their tent had shirts and CD’s, but no stickers – it looked the PaddyWagon was going to remain bare! By this time I had dropped $43 bucks and I had the choice of eating some dinner or picking up a Bloody Irish Boys t-shirt. Man does not live on food alone. Plus it would be a great exercise in mind over body.

By the time I had finished my shopping and figuring out how to haul all my swag (glad I wore cargo pants, that’s for sure), The Bloody Irish Boys were up on their stage getting themselves situated. At that point, due to some issues with sound, they did not play long. Meanwhile, The Mahones were set up and the first of many shuffles began.

At this point the venue was not very packed, so I was able to get a great spot in the pit while staying away from those wanting to mosh. From the first notes, my smile must have been huge – the energy from The Mahones was awesome! This is a band that is great recorded but AWESOME live! Their set blew me away and I was drunk on the vibrations and sounds assaulting me.

Their set list for the evening was:

  1. Drunken Night In Dublin
  2. Paint The Town Red
  3. A Great Night On The Lash
  4. County Down Whistle Solo
  5. Wild Rover
  6. A Pain From Yesterday
  7. One Last Shot
  8. Is This Bar Open ‘Til Tomorrow
  9. Drunken Lazy Bastard/Teenage Kicks

Once The Mahones were done, I headed back over to the side stage where The Bloody Irish Boys had apparently fixed the sound problem and were setting up again. Still on my high from The Mahones, I was even further elevated for the evening. At this point, I could have left and gone home and the trip would have been worth every minute and dime! The Bloody Irish Boys are a band that reminds me why I am enjoying the indies and regional bands – while maybe a bit raw and not polished and flashy, their music is attainable and is performed for themselves and their audience, not for the almighty buck (though I am quite sure they appreciate every buck they get!). Thank you Shayne and company for a great night.

Next up for the evening was the Street Dogs. By this time, the venue was starting to get fuller as more people started to flow in, but still not too bad for someone who gets claustrophobic in the press of mass humanity. The Street Dogs played with great energy but with a heavy political message and pro-union sentiment. Now before any unionists start to get up in arms and calling for a picket of me, in fair disclosure, I am a member of the CWA and have been for the last 8 years. I believe that the time for unions is past – they did serve a wonderful purpose but now they primarily serve to protect the incompetent, lazy and frauds. I have seen too many abuses of the negotiated benefits that make it difficult for aperson who has real need and they have to jump through hoops to get those benefits. OK, enough of my soapbox, back to the replay. At this point in the evening, my experience plateaued – while still enjoyable, it was not anywhere near the first two acts.

After the Street Dogs came the Parkington Sisters. I am at a loss who to describe their style except to say find some songs and give them a listen. The instruments are all acoustic, but the way the sounds blend is something indeed and they display a vicious sense of humor with each other that’s unique to siblings.  They also had a helping hand in their songs from Ken Casey and Chuck Ragan.

From here on out the night begins to blur for me as it became more and more crowded. By the time Stiff Little Fingers was on the main stage, I could no longer get into the pit and other than the diehards, most people had stopped shuffling between stages. People were camping out in the pit waiting for the Murphys and for Chuck Ragan on the side stage. Even though we were outside, the mass of humanity was starting to feel stifling to me. I did manage to bear it to hear Chuck Ragan. The growling vocals and rockabilly influence reminded me a lot of Cuthroat Shamrock.

Finally it was time for Dropkick Murphys to start. By now, I had moved up to the top of the lawn seat area so my vantage point was not that great, but since I saw them live 6 months ago with a great view, I did not mind. Once again, for those that have seen them, the Murphys put on a great show with lots of production and lighting. It makes me wish I could have seen them years ago before they had a budget for big shows and been able to see them raw.

Overall, it was a great night and I loved how members of other bands would hop in and out. Shayne Underwood singing with The Mahones, Ken Casey and Chuck Ragan with the Parkington Sisters, The Parkington sisters playing accordion for the Murphys and Nora Parkington singing the female lead of The Dirty Glass -it felt like everyone on the road was truly enjoying their time with the other bands.

All in all, I would say it was well worth the almost 26 hours on the go, the carb loading and caffeine highs and lows and I wish you were there with me. Below are some pictures I tried taking from my phone, I hope you enjoy!

Slainte!

p.s. I will try to work better on future posts – I have some albums to review, one of which will be the new Rusty Nail CD I will hopefully be able to pick up tomorrow.

 

 

Christmas in July

Since last Friday, I have been like a kid waiting for Christmas!  The Dropkick Murphys announced their Shamrock Roll ‘N Roll Fest in which The Mahones and Street Dogs are going to be playing.  Ever since I heard The Mahones were going to be playing in the States, I have been anxious to find out when and where.  So when DKM posted the news of The Mahones playing with them, I got excited and quickly told my wonderful wife (who is my enabler with my musical addiction), and when I told her the closest venue was in Columbus, OH (416 miles away) she did not shoot me down.

The concert is going to be on a Tuesday, so the first thing I had to do in order to make this dream a reality was to find out if vacation time is open for me to take at work for Tuesday and Wednesday.  I sent a message to a co-worker asking if I could have the time, and during the hours waiting to hear back managed my giddy nervous anticipation by trying to think about what the wife can do with our kids and our dog while being gone for 2 days.  The moment I got the news that vacation was available, I went into my work to request those 2 days off, lest they got stolen from me!

So as it stands, I have my days off, I bought my tickets on Saturday and now I have to be patient and wait.  This concert will be several firsts for me, it will be the first time for me to see The Mahones and Street Dogs, in addition this will be my first road trip JUST to see a concert.

In other news, Friday night I also saw The Irish Xiles, a St Louis Irish Rock band at Nick’s Pub.  Other than there having been a fair number of bar patrons being loud and not paying attention to the band, the night was enjoyable.  The Irish Xiles are a 3 piece band that utilizes a keyboard to synthesis the wind instruments, the lead singer was the guitar player and a drummer.  The most amusing thing I found during the night was seeing the Bodhran being played with an empty Budweiser bottle.  The band is still rough around the edges and not quite as hard-driving as I generally like, but it was a fun evening.  Rusty Nail is still at the tops of my local Irish Rock bands.

Speaking of Rusty Nail, to further add to my September anticipation, their new CD will be coming out which I will be receiving as I helped in their Kickstarter campaign.  You can catch some of their songs on the Celtic Folk Punk Sampler, it is a free download, so enjoy and check them out along with the other great bands included.

Well enough blathering, back to watching the clock and waiting for September 13th to get here.  Slainte!

Thank you Last.fm

This is my first foray into the blogging and social media space.  For a long time, I did not feel I had anything to share of interest to other people, but this last year I have become addicted to Celtic Rock/Punk and I want to share my enthusiasm for the genre and the great bands that exist – many of which are local and regional.  Without the Internet, I never would have heard of them.

To start, way back when in the 90’s, I had been a big fan of The Pogues and Black 47. If I had only known of the some of the bands at that time!  As with most of us, the real world intrudes in our lives and music took a backseat to other things in my life.  Recently, I have felt something was missing from enjoyment in life, but I could not find any music that revved me up – that is until I started listening to Last.fm at work.

One day I was listening to the Flogging Molly radio, and BAM! What a great day – for the first time I was hearing The Mahones, The Tossers, Flatfoot 56 and many others.  As I would hear a band that caught my attention, I would switch to their radio and found even more!  The Killigans and Killmaine Saints, American Wake, Bollox, Real McKenzies!  A fire was lit that day!  I found what I was missing!  Music that combined the power and frustration of Punk with the melodies, themes and anger of the great Irish songs!  The combination of rock with the soulful rebellion songs, the hard emotion of punk mixed with the songs of exile and anger.  My playlists kept growing and still grow daily.

It drove me to find more and wonderful blogs like Paddyrock, Shite n Onions and Celtic Folk Punk helped me found more.  On my last birthday, my wife got us tickets to go see Dropkick Murphys and what a blast! I had forgotten how much fun live music is.  That drove me to find bands to listen to live.  So many of the bands I have really enjoyed are regional and don’t make it St Louis.  But I was encouraged – St Louis has a large population of Irish ancestry, so surely there had to be something here.  If Lincoln, NE could have the wonderful band The Killigans or Rockport, IL with their powerful Screw City Saints, why not St. Louis?

After much searching the internet, I found a band called Rusty Nail.  That got me thinking that I want to help people find a band in a genre that is so much more than Flogging Molly, DKM or The Pogues.  After much deliberation and soul-searching for a name for the blog, here it is Rocking the Craic (pronounced as crack.)  Craic is an Irish term for fun, entertainment and enjoyable conversation.  Very appropriate, I think!

I doubt I will ever be able to even be a tenth of what Paddyrock, Shite n Onions and Celtic Folk Punk are, and I am not trying to be them.  This blog is about my journeys and explorations of a much overlooked genre of music and if I can help a few people find a band or two near them, then I have succeeded in what I want to do.  Slainte!