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A familiar sound in traditional Irish battles was the ‘warpipes’ or as they are most commonly referred to, ‘bagpipes’. The loud, deafening sound that bellowed from them told the enemy that although they may think the battle would be easily won, for those fighting Irish in attendance the war had just begun!
Fittingly (Hellcat Records’ finest signing) the Street Dogs newest and self titled album starts a musical war with an onslaught of rolling drums and ‘warpipes’ in its’ title track, “Formation”. Guaranteed to be a show opener, it prepares us all for what will surely be an amazing album. If that was the band’s intent, I’d have to say it was a job well done.
Directly after the pipes fade away, the first released single, “Rattle and Roll” charges out the gate at full steam with it’s opening line, “Are you ready to roll? Are ready to rattle? We’re out on the town and ready for battle!”
For a band that follows a heavy coffee regime, this intro is the equivalent to a full pot in your stomach and a nervous shaking in your brain. A well constructed game plan for a well constructed album.
As a fan of the band and someone very familiar with the bands history, I waited impatiently for this release and what I expected was what they delivered. Although, this time it came with a twist.
Yes, frontman Mike McColgan still stands strongly by his firm union ties and yes, as a whole their beliefs on the social and political world still ring true, but with this album they will have their voices heard! The lyrical content is just as powerful but this time around the instrumentation has grown. Maybe it has something to do with bassist Johnny Rioux’s Compound Family side-project? Google em, trust me.
Point in case is that an accordion in the track, “Bobby Powers”? Nicely done.
Moving along, following “Rattle and Roll” is the potential next video and chant laced, “Up the Union”. A pretty self explanatory song that blisters thru with a hard hitting message and an even harder sound. Fast, loud and to the point.
Surprisingly, next in line is my current favorite song, “Punk Rock And Roll”. Featuring the soon to be quoted line, “We all need a little punk rock and roll, the kind that makes you wanna break some bones!”. Guitar solos, 88 keys and a catchy chorus will have you singing along in the circle pit in no time.
“The Shape of Man” is now up to bat and begins with a slow tempo folk ballad feel. In true fashion, it directly picks up speed and has the amazing line, “Nobody knows the shape of other men. He could be looking well but his life’s a living hell”. Yet again, another standout track.
It’s getting pretty easy to see why a live Street Dogs show is complete and absolute chaos. With every band member giving it 110%.
As the album progresses, musically you can hear the chemistry between drummer, Paul Rucker; lead guitarist, Marcus Hollar and rhythm guitarist (and punk rock DJ) Tobe Bean III.
Tracks such as “Yesterday” and “In Stereo” highlight the rock and roll diversity of the group, while “Too Much Information” and “Hang Em High” give you a glimpse into their feelings on all the unbelievable crap going on in our modern day society and the people who are spreading it.
“Ghosts” is far and above the most unique song with the accordion making another appearance and it’s haunting Old West tinge.
Thankfully, if your fortunate enough to enjoy this album as much as myself it has 18 tracks sure to entice current and newly found fans of the band. Drunken hymns such as “Harpo”, heartfelt songs such as “10 Wood Road” and “Oh Father”. Political war cries like “Freedom”. A dedication to nostalgic Boston punk club ‘The Rat’ and its owner entitled, “Poor Poor Jimmy”. Plus, a remake of the song that enrolled me in the Street Dogs army, the homage to a close fallen friend, “Fighter”.
I had read somewhere that with this album the Street Dogs were going back to their roots. Although I agree, I also think it touches base with each album in their career in some way shape or form and most importantly brings new elements of the band to the table.
So what is it that makes the Street Dogs stand out amongst the rest? It’s a little something that unlike most musicians they wear proudly on their sleeve… and that my friends is heart!