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Album Review: Dropkick Murphys – ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”

There are always those bands that you can count on to release variations of the same album over and over again. No matter how interesting it might be to hear artists try new instrumentation, it’s still comforting to know that when Bad Religion puts out a new album it will still sound like Bad Religion; It could be cool to see what happens when artists attempt genres outside of their wheelhouse, but it’s also just as cool to put on a new NOFX album and already feel like you’ve known the songs for years.

If you think I’m implying that 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, the latest album by Dropkick Murphys (and allegedly their first of two albums to be released in 2017), sounds like everything else the band has done, it’s because I am implying that. But if you also think like I’m implying that 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory somehow deviates from the Murphys’ usual trends, it’s because I am also implying that. And the weirdest thing is that they’re both correct statements.

First and foremost, this is most definitely a Dropkick Murphys album. There are shout-along choruses, songs about brotherhood, being kicked down, or standing together in the face of violence and fear, traditional covers, and just enough bagpipe. Anyone who has stuck with the band over the past decade and a half is sure to be on board with this. The band knows their strengths and have been playing to them since at least 2001. The album’s first single, “Blood,” alongside “Rebels with a Cause” and “Sandlot” form a strong first third of the album, with plenty of that DKM charm (here are the choruses of all three, respectively: “If you want blood, we’ll give you some straight from the heart til the job is done”, “We believed in you, we knew it from the start- hey kid! You’ve got heart!” and “We had it all when we were young”).

The true standout on 11 Short Stories, however, is the penultimate track “4-15-13.” Written as a tribute to the people of Boston, the song is a somber reflection of the titular day’s bombings committed during the city’s annual marathon. Rather than focusing on the actual bombings, the song turns inwardly at all the people who make up Boston and how, despite their differences, they’re all still Bostonians and they’re all still in this together no matter what life throws at them.

And yet, for all of its familiarities that make it a Dropkick Murphys album, 11 Short Stories still somehow feels a little different. The production isn’t quite as glossy as The Meanest of Times but it’s still not exactly The Gang’s All Here quality either. And the covers, while present, are in short supply, and not exactly what you might expect from the band. “The Lonesome Boatman,” which kicks off the album, is beefed up from its tin whistle-led original and not too surprising, but the album’s other cover, rather than being a traditional Irish jaunt like the band’s usual style, is “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (for the uninitiated, the song is often associated with football clubs around the world, which might give a better context for how the band became familiar with the song, although bassist/vocalist Ken Casey also went on record to say that he was inspired to cover the song after finding solace in the lyrics as he was leaving a wake for a friend who died of an opiate overdose). The filler tracks here range in quality- “I Had a Hat” is kind of nonsensical but it’s still a fun, uptempo punk romp, but “First Class Loser” doesn’t accomplish much except for come off as a mean-spirited joke, which is bizarre in the face of the album’s other songs about standing together. The album’s final track, “Until the Next Time” is the oddest departure of the bunch, coming off as more of a Broadway sing-along than the actual Broadway tune.

Despite all of the over-analyzation, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is really just one thing: a Dropkick Murphys album. And in the long run, that’s all it really needs to be.

3.5 / 5



DS Photo Gallery: Dropkick Murphys and The Interrupters at Agganis Arena (Boston, MA)

 

For the last fifteen-or-so years, Massachusetts-based Celtic punk icons Dropkick Murphys playing a string of hometown shows has become as synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day as their musical forebears Mighty Mighty Bosstones doing a similar thing has been with Christmastime. As the band’s popularity has increased, so too has the size of venues at these St. Patrick’s weekend shenanigans, and the last two years have featured dates at the Agganis Arena, the state-of-the-art, 7200-capacity hockey rink located on the campus of Boston University. For many bands, the tendency on such a large stage might be to play “just the hits” in order to cater to the casual fans, but Dropkick Murphys, as it turns out, are not one of those bands. Say what you will about their level of “Tessie”/”Shipping Up To Boston”- inspired fame, but Dropkick Murphys have long been conscious or remembering the fans that’ve been there since the days when the clubs they played would fit within the confines of the stage of the Agganis (case in point: yours truly first saw the Dropkicks in August 1997, when they played in between the Mr. Rogers Project and The Pietasters at the Living Room in Providence).

A confetti cannon (seen above) and the instrumental “Lonesome Boatman” from the Dropkicks’ latest release 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory (released January 6th on their own Born & Bred Records) introduced the band to the stage before they proceeded to launch into their 2007 hit “State Of Massachusetts.” If I can take a minute to inject myself into this story, here’s where I publicly apologize to Ken Casey & Company. I think it’s important to point out that I count myself as one of those hometown fans that’s been hypercritical (unfairly so) of the band over the last dozen post-“Tessie” years, though that’s strictly a musical critique; their tremendous fundraising and community work and their ongoing penchant for giving local bands a break is not only beyond reproach but is ultimately the stuff to which all bands should aspire. But I’ll tell you what…since the 90 minute set that began with the opening tenor banjo riff on “…Massachusetts,” yours truly has been not only back aboard the Good Ship Murphys, but more than a little embarrassed about having jumped off in the first place.

The setlist on this night, as on most nights, was pretty varied and all-encompassing. Sure 11 Short Stories… was well represented, but so too were earlier albums like Do Or Die, Blackout and The Warrior’s Code on songs like “Boys On The Docks,” “Time To Go,” and, of course, the latter album’s title track, which is a shoutout to local boxing legend “Irish” Micky Ward who was, of course, in attendance. What’s perhaps most impressive about a Dropkick Murphys set circa 2017, aside maybe from their ability to keep a crowd constantly fired up, is the level of sheer musicianship among the group’s core. Ken Casey is, by his own admission, not the world’s most astute bass player, but he’s also their unquestionable heart-and-soul. Drummer Matt Kelly and principle frontman Al Barr are about as quietly strong-up-the-middle as you’ll find. Like the band as a whole, the trio of Tim Brennan, Jeff DeRosa and Kevin Rheault (longtime tech who’s filling in for James Lynch on this run), however, don’t get nearly enough credit. At any given time, the three trade off between guitar, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, tin whistle and keyboard duties, rarely manning the same battle station for more than two or three songs in a row. The seamless nature that things seem to run in that regard is  really awesome, in the literal sense of the word.

Direct support on this night, as on the bulk of the month-long tour, came from The Interrupters. The ska punk quartet have been mighty busy over the last nine months or so since releasing their sophomore album, Say It Out Loud; since playing the duration of last year’s Warped Tour, they headlined full Europe and US tours of their own before heading back across the pond to open for Green Day immediately before this Dropkicks spot. It’s no secret that The Interrupters have been one of yours truly’s favorite bands to cover over the last few years, and performances like this particular one exemplify why, at least in part. The insanely talented (and yet somehow still wildly underrated) rhythm section of twin brothers Jesse (drums) and Justin (bass) Bivona keep the gas pedal floored, with Justin teaming with big brother Kevin (guitar, above) and frontwoman Aimee “Interrupter” as a three-headed ball of constant frenetic energy at the front of the stage. As Kevin mentioned when we caught up for an interview on these pages last year, the band are mindful that they’ve developed a sound product that definitely works, and if anything critical can be said of how they’ve made it work at the end of another long, successful tour run, it’s almost that they make it look TOO easy. (Oh, and they’re one of the only bands that can cover an Operation Ivy classic, “Sound System,” without sounding like a cheap, watered-down knockoff.)

Also opening this night (and most of the rest of the tour) was genuine Irish punk band Blood Or Whiskey. With all apologies to the Dublin-based sextet, a variety of communication mishaps between arena staff lead yours truly on a half-hour-long wild goose chase that resulted in me missing the entirety of their set, save for a song about frontman Dugs Mulhooly’s favorite pub back home closing down, only to be replaced by a coffee shop. Sorry lads…we’ll catch you next time around, we promise.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the Interrupters and Dropkick Murphys sets. And a special thanks to my much younger brother from another mother Nick Gold for the assist. Good on ya, bud.



Rancid and Dropkick Murphys announce co-headlining “From Boston To Berkeley” tour

For all of you that have been living under a rock over the last twenty-four hours and have subsequently not been on the Internet…Dropkick Murphys and Rancid are co-headlining a North American tour this coming summer!

Dubbed the “From Boston To Berkeley” tour, the month-long jaunt kicks off July 27th in Bangor, Maine, and runs through August 26th in Los Angeles. (We’ll just let that one percolate for a minute.) If the co-headliners weren’t enough to get you out to a show, the two heavyweight bands are bringing along a handful of openers who are pretty impressive in their own individual rights. Support on the first half of the tour (through August 9th in Milwaukee) comes from The Bouncing Souls and Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers. The second half kicks off two days later in August 11th and features support from The Selecter and Kevin Seconds. Head below for the full rundown!



Dying Scene Radio’s Elena Venetia featured in International ad campaign

Tatted up, punk rock badass, and co-host at Dying Scene RadioElena Venetia – is currently being featured in an international ad campaign for American luxury fitness company, Equinox. The ad campaign with accompanying NYC billboards, depicts Samantha Paige, a model and mother who underwent a double mastectomy, posing topless while DSR’s Elena performs the role of a tattoo artist. Dropkick Murphys‘ Ken Casey even weighed in, scoping out the ad campaign for himself and inviting Ms. Venetia to a private listening party for their new album, “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”.

For more on this, see below.



Dropkick Murphys release new music video – “Paying My Way” on release date of new album

Dropkick Murphys have a new music video out for their song “Paying My Way,” and you can watch it out below.

It’s the second video for the song, and features a lot fewer hockey players in it than the first version did.

The track comes off the band’s new album, 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory, which is out today (January 6th) via the band’s label, Born & Bred Records. You can order the new album on vinyl or CD right here.

Prior to the new album, Dropkick Murphys last released their album Signed and Sealed With Blood back in 2013.



Dropkick Murphys team up with NHL for new video – “Paying My Way”

Dropkick Murphys are adding some new teammates, in a collaboration with the National Hockey League. Check out the band’s new video for “Paying My Way,” featuring a whole bunch of NHL clips, past and present, here.

The song comes from the band’s upcoming album, 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory, which is due out January 6th via Born & Bred Records. You can pre-order a copy of the album on iTunes right here, which will also get you a download of the new track. If you’re looking for vinyl or CD, along with plenty of bundle options, head right here.

Dropkick Murphys last released the album Signed and Sealed With Blood back in 2013.



Dropkick Murphys stream new song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” off upcoming album “11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory”

Dropkick Murphys have unveiled another new tune from their upcoming album 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory. This one is called “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and you can check it out below.

11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory is set to be released on January 6th, 2017 through Born and Bred Records and will be the first album to be released by the band since 2013′s Signed and Sealed With Blood.



Dropkick Murphys announce new album “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory”, stream new song “Blood”

After recently announcing plans to release two new albums in the next year, Dropkick Murphys have now unveiled the first of which to be called “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory”. The album is set to be released on January 6th, 2017 through Born and Bred Records and will be the first album to be released by the band since 2013’s “Signed and Sealed With Blood”.

On top of revealing the new album, the band is also giving us the first taste of what to expect off of the record by releasing the first new single entitled “Blood”, accompanied by a lyric video.

Check out the new song and a full track listing of “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory” below.



Dropkick Murphys announce new album release date, US tour, and stream new song “Blood”

Celtic punks Dropkick Murphy’s have gone on a rampage of announcements. To start, the band revealed the scheduled release date for their upcoming album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. The band had initially announced one new album coming in the first week of January 2017 and another 6 months later. The group celebrated this announcement by releasing a lyric video for a brand new song off of the record called “Blood”, which you can check out below. The album will touch on various subjects such as, “a look back at childhood life, a snapshot of a clueless Masshole, a stop-you-in-your tracks reflection on a terrorist tragedy”, and it is clear with this new song that they are taking a deeper turn with their music.

On the topic of the new album, bassist Ken Casey said:

To me, the whole journey starts with the fact we actually agreed to go – and then went – to Texas. Because we’ve never left home to make a record. As everyone’s lives have become crazier and busier with kids and families, it’s gotten harder to buckle down at home. We decided to leave Boston, go down to literally the middle of nowhere and lock ourselves in a room.

To tie it all together, the band will be embarking on a tour of US starting February 21st in Bethlehem, PA and ending with a hometown run of shows during St. Patrick’s Day Week (March 15-19). You can view a full list of dates and locations below.

The new albums will be the band’s first since 2013′s Signed and Sealed With Blood, released through their own label Born & Bred Records. Stay tuned for more details on both upcoming records.



Full Set Video: Dropkick Murphys – Live at Hurricane Festival 2016

If its been too long since you’ve seen Dropkick Murphys live, or you’ve never seen them live, here’s the next best thing. It’s a high definition audio and vidoe recording of the band’s performance at this year’s Hurricane Festival in Germany. Enjoy it below.

Dropkick Murphys recently revealed that they will be releasing not one, but two new albums in 2017. The new albums will be the band’s first since 2013′s Signed and Sealed With Blood, released through their own label Born & Bred Records.



Dropkick Murphys to release two new albums next year

In a recent interview, Dropkick Murphys bassist/vocalist Ken Kasey revealed that the band has finished two new records to be released next year, the first to be released in the first in the first week of January and the second to be released six months later.

You can listen to the rest of the interview here.

The new albums will be the band’s first since 2013’s Signed and Sealed With Blood, released through their own label Born & Bred Records.



Dropkick Murphys’ Tim Brennan talks about songwriting process of next album

In a recent interviewDropkick Murphys guitarist Tim Brennan talked about the songwriting process of their anticipated new album, which is in the works, but explains how they are beyond the days where they feel the pressure to release music on tight schedules:

“We’ve never been the type of band who goes into the studio with loose ideas and fleshes them out during the recording process; we tend to like to have more or less a button on the songs we want to record… We still give ourselves room to move once we get the songs into the studio, but we will almost always have a fairly concrete idea of what we want to get out of the recording of specific songs.”

The new album will be the band’s first since 2013’s Signed and Sealed With Blood released through their own label Born & Bred Records.



Dropkick Murphys announce recording plans for new album

It’s been three years since we’ve had new music from Celtic punk Dropkick Murphys but it looks like the wait may soon be over. According to sources who attended the band’s 20th anniversary show recently, the Boston legends announced to the crowd that they were heading into the studio in May with plans to release a new full-length in November. No official announcement has been made but we’ll keep you posted as details come to light.

The new album will be the band’s first since 2013’s Signed and Sealed With Blood released through their own label Born & Bred Records.



Dropkick Murphys add new dates for their 20th anniversary tour

Celtic punks Dropkick Murphys have added a few dates, as well as confirmed venues for previously un-booked dates to their upcoming 20th anniversary tour with Tiger Army and Darkbuster. You can see the updated list of dates and locations  (with new ones marked with +) below.

Dropkick Murphys last released Signed and Sealed With Blood in 2013 through their own label Born & Bred Records.



Dropkick Murphys announce more dates and supporting bands for 20th anniversary tour

Last week Boston Celtic punk icons Dropkick Murphys have announced that they will embark on a tour next year celebrating the 20th anniversary of their formation.  Today the band has announced all of the current dates for that tour.  They have also announced that they will be joined by fellow Bostonian’s Darkbuster, as well as psychobilly favorites Tiger Army, who will be touring in support of an upcoming album.

You can check out the full list of dates and locations below.  Tickets will be on sale November 27th, and you can pick those up at the Dropkick Murphys website.

Dropkick Murphys last released Signed and Sealed With Blood in 2013 through their own label Born & Bred Records.  Tiger Army last released Music From Regions Beyond  in 2007 on Hellcat Records.  Darkbuster last released No Revolution in August on Pirates Press Records.