(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, March 11, 2011

CD review - Dropkick Murphys, Going Out In Style (2011)

Great live bands often have a problem capturing their on-stage energy in the studio. Dropkick Murphys absolutely kill in concert. They hit the stage in full assault and everyone in the house is quickly caught up. Even though it's challenging for a studio album to deliver that level of enthusiasm, Dropkick Murphys refuse to accept the common wisdom. Their latest CD, Going Out In Style, kicks off with a take-no-prisoners stance. It's not a live show, but the party atmosphere pervades the disc.

The drums roll in on Hang Em High and the chant begins. Bagpipes and thrashy guitars jockey for position for the charge in this battle hymn. The rollicking beat steamrolls through the track and the sing along chorus sets the mood as a drinking song in Valhalla. Full of macho posturing, the song takes on a spirited black humor.

This slides right into the title track, which satisfies the traditional form of the Irish wake song. The singer paints the picture of his own wake in loving detail. The frantic drive and attitude recall the Pogues at their best. Going Out of Style is full great imagery:
It's a neighborhood reunion, but now we'd get along
Van Morrison would be there and he'd sing me one last song
Somehow, just listening to this resurrects my own breath of Irish ancestry. Of course, it would probably do the same for a Tai Pei native.

Much like their live show, Dropkick Murphys evoke a raucous, party punk energy. They stir up the traditional instruments with rock swagger. Going Out of Style is a loose concept album, tagging the songs to a central character, Cornelius Larkin. The liner notes even feature his obituary, but Larkin is really just an everyman foil to anchor their unapologetic songs.

Of course, it wouldn't be true Irish without a descent or two into pathos. The mournful elegy of Cruel, the period poignancy of Broken Hymns, and the nostalgic love ballad, 1953, help balance the frantic pace of the other tracks. A couple of classics round out the set: a rocked out Buddy Holly style cover of Peg 'O My Heart (with Bruce Springsteen sharing the vocals) and a wired version of the traditional song, The Irish Rover.

In its heart, Going Out In Style asserts that everyday is St. Patrick's Day. Celebrate with Dropkick Murphys and have a pint of draught Guinness.

Pick up a copy from JSR Direct or Amazon.

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