Dropkick Murphys

Sing Loud, Sing Proud

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Boston's Dropkick Murphys exude an energetic rowdiness, a definite slice of punk-o-rama appeal. Fans raise their fists in the spirit of Oi!, and the Dropkicks playfully snarl into Irish-American song traditions and musical unity. On Sing Loud, Sing Proud, it became more than a family affair. The band's new lineup featuring James Lynch (guitar), Spicy McHaggis (bagpipes), and Ryan Foltz (mandolin) allowed the album a broad-based instrumentation, a spastic composition scaling above 1999's The Gang's All Here. The fervor surrounding a hearty jig, a group of hearty men, and social woes in the midst of relaxing with a scally cap is something commonly found among the Dropkicks' fun-spirited chants. "The Torch" resonates Celtic folk vibes, acoustics blending inside Barr's and bassist Ken Casey's roughcast duet. "Good Rats" and the vinyl-only version "The Wild Rover" feature ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan on guest vocals. One of the '80s biggest headaches, MacGowan's presence adds a hint of old school rock ambience, but his contributions are lackluster. Barr's throaty growl overshadows MacGowan's monotone; the songs might have done decently without him. But again, it is Shane MacGowan, one of the original barroom heroes who helped lead Irish rock to near mainstream level. The Dropkick Murphys do remain at the heart of things, particularly on "Fortunes of War." Dedicated in memory of a punk rock fan who was killed in Texas, Cock Sparrer's Colin McFaull joins Barr for a touching swan song, skatepunk style. Recognizing the working class' blood and tears while patronizing the use of societal scapegoats, "Fortunes of War" makes Sing Loud, Sing Proud a decent addition to the band's album roster, but thanks to a pint of ale, of course.

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