A long four years has passed since The Meanest of Times was released, and the new album pretty much picks up where Meanest left off. A raucous album with a lot of feeling and energy shows that despite being away from the studio for a long time, they still know how to play off each other. This album is impressive, and a whole lot of emotions are here, as well as the great standard punk that Dropkick Murphys are famous for.
The first song, "Hang 'Em High" starts with a fade in and sets the stage for what's about to happen. It basically says "get strapped in because this 45 minutes is going to kick your ass!" This song sounds a lot like the songs off Meanest, but there is a new feel here that completely beats down any rumors of selling out from these guys.
"The Hardest Mile" starts off almost sounding more like Flogging Molly than Dropkick Murphys. An accordian takes the place of bagpipes. This is a song about the immigrant laborers at the turn of the century and the fight they endured.
"Cruel" is a track that sounds like a love song or a paean to one's parents. It's a slow song, and it takes a bit of a laid back place in the album. No bagpipes in this one either.
"Memorial Day" is a song about Union workers and those lost to industrial accidents, a good swing beat with a banjo and flute. Say what you will about these guys, but they know how to bring more instruments to the party!
"Climbing A Chair To Bed" is a song about the hangover and the dealings with feelings and emotions the day after going out to drink. A good bouncy song!
"Broken Hymns" is a song about the Civil War and takes great pride in dealing with the history of it and is viewed through the eyes of a young platoon fighting against the South.
The bagpipes return with a vengance on "Deeds Not Words," and this song kicks it hard with a lot of energy about followiing a traitor and going to beat them down once their found. Great playing here.
"Take Em Down" is a Union anthem with just some simple acoustic guitars, banjo and stomping and clapping. A lot of fans of Dropkick Murphys have become infuriated by this song, saying it's pro-Union violence. However, those people don't appreciate the tongue in cheek attitude. Just because it says take em down and smash em to the ground doesn't just mean violence.
"Sunday Hardcore Matinee" is a great song about going to a punk show, and getting your friends together to party and drink.
"1953," "Peg O' My Heart" featuring Bruce Springsteen and "The Irish Rover" finish out the album, a few great tracks!
The mixing of the album is actually more spot on than in previous efforts by the band, although there is a lot of compression on this album, it still sounds well and serves to bring the bagpipes and various other instruments to the forefront. The mixing is a more dimensional effort than previous albums as well. There's not any clipping and the peaks and valleys of the sound are still well preserved. The feeling isn't taken out of the music like when the "loudness war" claims another victim.
This album is a great effort, and while it's not like the old school albums, it shows a maturity and a good change in their songwriting and performance. While I was waiting for this album to come in the mail, I was wondering if it was going to suck. Well, color me impressed. I do miss the old style punk from the earlier efforts, but this album shows the band hasn't lost any of it's style and performance ability. I'm so glad to enjoy this new album and I hope to hear many more great albums from this band!
So get out there Tuesday and get this album! Also, if you're in the Des Moines area, get your tickets for Friday's show!
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