Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dropkick Murphys Are Sealed In Blood

Dropkick Murphys
In 2011, the Dropkick Murphys tried something different with Going Out In Style. It was a bit of a concept album that traced the journey of Irish immigrant Cornelius Larkin. Larkin’s journey was told from several points of view and with the added support of notables such as Bruce Springsteen (guest vocals on Peg O’ My Heart).

The band then took a break from touring in spring 2012 to focus on writing material for what would become their eighth studio album. They chose to work in a warehouse in, appropriately enough, South Boston.

The result of that productive period can be heard and felt on 2013’s Signed and Sealed in Blood, released on the band’s Born & Bred Records. Whereas Going Out In Style is a concept album, Signed and Sealed in Blood is classic Dropkick Murphys.

Dropkick Murphys bring back an old friend to help out.

Given the album brings the band back to their hard-hitting Boston Irish roots, it only makes sense to recruit someone who understands it. In this case, producer Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show, Flogging Molly, Gaslight Anthem) is back at the controls (he also produced Going Out In Style) but this time his presence keeps the proceedings grounded and cohesive.

The band itself is clearly a more cohesive unit too. Although the lineup has changed over the years, the band’s vision and passion remains. The current lineup includes Al Barr, lead vocals; Ken Casey, lead vocals and bass; Matt Kelly, drums, bodhran and vocals; Tim Brennan, guitar, accordion and vocals; James Lynch, guitar and vocals; Jeff DaRosa, mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, whistle, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and vocals; and the venerable Scruffy Wallace, tin whistle and bagpipes.

The band comes out blazing with stories, sing-alongs, and even a few unexpected moments such as in the lilting Jimmy Collins’ Wake. The song tells of the man who took the beloved Boston Red Sox to victory in the 1903 World Series. Collins both managed and played for the Red Sox for six seasons and was known as a “terror with the bat. A feared clutch hitter,” according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, into which Collins was elected in 1945, two years after his death at age 73.

There’s also the rousing and anthemic The Boys Are Back, and no doubt looking for trouble. End of the Night is a drinking sing-along song that Casey has aptly described as a loser’s anthem. Prisoner’s Song is hard hitting while Rose Tattoo, the single that was released in advance of the album’s drop date, is propelled by a chiming mandolin, driving drum beat and catchy chorus.

Although The Season’s Upon Us is a Christmas tune and may feel out of place in January, it's very likely to become a holiday staple. The seemingly traditional Celtic-inflused holiday song is about a family that’s about as dysfunctional as one can get, perhaps the kind of family the Ramones might have sung about.

The official video is definitely worth a look. It feels good, regardless of the season, because the Dropkick Murphys embrace problems rather than try to hide them or brush them under the rug.

Signed and Sealed in Blood is filled with everything fans have come to love and expect from Dropkick Murphys: love, family, fight, and plenty of passion. From the first track to the last, it’s a lively, rollicking listen. Each new Dropkick Murphys album is my favorite, and that’s definitely the case here.

Signed And Sealed In Blood Stomps 9.0 On The Liquid HIp Richter Scale.

Dropkick Murphys are one of the hardest-working bands and can usually be found on tour. They’re in Europe this month and part of February, returning to the United States in February and March, and then heading down under to Australia in April.

Signed and Sealed In Blood by Dropkick Murphys can be found on iTunes. The deluxe version includes Lucky Charlie and two music videos, Rose Tattoo and The Season's Upon Us. Amazon also carries the deluxe album, with the additional song and music video (when you purchase the album). Barnes & Noble carries the original release as well as a vinyl edition.

Dropkick Murphys will be playing their annual and legendary St. Patrick’s Day show at the House of Blues in Boston on March 17 this year. Expect tickets to go faster than you can say Jimmy Collins. You can stay up to date on Facebook or the band's website.
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