Dropkick Murphys – The Warriors Code – Round 64 – Graham’s Choice

I suppose some explanation is due download (1)
as to why I turned up this week with a Celtic punk album from a US band not really known that much out of Boston.  Partly lack of inspiration for Round 63, led me to some unusually adventurous/flippant CD purchases in an effort to explore new genres.

For this choice, movies and football hold the key, and Boston’s intense connection with its Irish heritage. The Red Sox are owned by FSG Group, who also own the ‘might reds’, so that explains a loose affinity to a band who are the local heroes and provided the team with ‘Tessie’ (live version on this album) as a stadium soundtrack.

My first exposure to the band was the inclusion of ‘I’m Shipping up to Boston’ in the Departed soundtrack (it also features here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDKrkmkUHsk, in the similarly acclaimed ‘The DeBarted’ . One of their best known songs and nearest thing to a hit record they have ever had. A riotous Celtic punk noise which I sought out, to be surprised to discover it’s a  Woody Guthrie cover about a one legged sailor, who knew?

Their  5th albumfrom 2005, it doesn’t really warrant too in depth a study of the ‘Dropkicks’ musical style, as they are probably the ‘Ronseal’ of Celtic US punk, by delivering exactly what it says on the CD cover. They borrow riffs and guitar styles left right and centre. Part of the enjoyment of the album is the familiarity with some of the echoes of the Clash, Skids, Big Country (plus a bit of Stiff Little Fingers) that fall out along the way.

To lighten the mood further, I manage to squeeze in ‘I hate every bone in your body except mine’, as a track from the gloriously named Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters. http://www.last.fm/music/Buck+Satan+and+the+666+Shooters/_/I+Hate+Every+Bone+in+Your+Body+Except+Mine I still haven’t fully completed my exploration of the world of country metal crossovers, but Buck and his gang are a start.

Rob listened: … sorry, got distracted there reading members of a white power forum debating whether Dropkick Murphys are racist or not, bemoaning their conclusion that they are not, and wishing they could have some of their songs for their ‘side’.

Funnily enough I’ve been wondering whether I can sacrifice a Record Club choice to bring some Big Country along. They were one of my first musical loves and, partly for that reason, their blend of post-punk-becoming-straight-rock and traditional Scottish melodies and sounds still has some frisson for me. I hear that in the first track or two of ‘The Warrior’s Code’ but it soon sinks beneath the surface of their tendon straining rock-punk which ultimately bludgeons flat any and all subtlety.

They do seem occasionally to take their feet off their collective pedals. ‘The Burden’ could easily be a Grant Hart Husker Du track, but in this context it sounds equally like the sensitive kid who’s going to get the crap kicked out of him repeatedly in this particularly uninviting school yard.

Tom listened: A new one on me, I am not sure I have even heard (or taken in at least) the name. Some of it sounded like The Clash, some of it like The Pogues, but in both cases I’d prefer to listen to the originals and am not sure The Dropkicks brought much of their own slant on proceedings. They can obviously play, they obviously have plenty of energy and I am sure they would be good in a live setting but, as an album, this left me cold I’m afraid.

Nick listened: Not really my bag, I’m afraid, but I didn’t dislike it. Reminded me of a more rambunctious Hold Steady, in many ways.


One thought on “Dropkick Murphys – The Warriors Code – Round 64 – Graham’s Choice”

  1. Popular television and film has the unfortunate tendency of domesticating vital music. Consider a modernist luminary like Bartok. While his exercises in dissonance caused much consternation during his heyday, subsequent overuse in Hollywood films has virtually defanged them. As a result, I can hardly listen to “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta” without thinking, “The Shining” or, “dramatic chase scene”. This is one of the more nauseating aspect of commercialism; self-contained works of art are deracinated then reduced to archetypes, to be deployed when the situation calls for it. A bit of Bartok or Stravinsky to denote emotional turmoil, a dash of Stockhausen for surreal episodes or sci-fi hijinks… Compilations (to a lesser extent) have this homogenizing effect as well, stripping songs of their original context, often to achieve a mood that the artist never intended (e.g. “There’s a Riot Going On” tracks mingling with cheery fluff in 70’s soul comps). This musical typecasting has greatly hindered my enjoyment of the Dropkicks and their pub-punk peers. Films, beer commercials, and even video games, have rendered their raucous shtick into the soundtrack for barroom buffoonery and gaudy action scenes. It still sounds great when I’m hammered on Guinness with the guys, but it falls flat in any other context. I don’t have this problem with less exposed (but equally pugnacious) acts like the Jesus Lizard.

    obscurity = versatility ?

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