Keeping with the folk, and the fact that I just discovered that the Dropkick Murphys released this new album, Going Out In Style, it seems like a wise action to review it, don't you think?
In the US, the big two acts of Celtic folk (punk) rock resurgence begun in the late 90s (at least that reach down to Florida) have been Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, and of the two Flogging Molly has always pulled ahead of my personal tastes. It's not that Flogging Molly is way better then Dropkick or anything, it's just been that the Murphys have always come across as more punk then folk. Sure every album has the few that include bagpipes and the traditional Irish/British/Scottish song, but the majority of the songs and music have been more solidly in the punk region of things.
I'm happy to say that with Going Out In Style, this is not the case. This has to be their most folk album to date, still holding onto their punk roots, but this time equalizing it all with a healthy dose of folk. Pretty much every song has the bagpipes or harmonica within, and some have that old-fashioned jig set-up ("Take 'Em Down" especially). It's a nice change from their previous works - again, none of which are bad, just not fully folk rock.
The album starts strong, with probably the best three songs of the album being the first three tracks; "Hang 'Em High," "Going Out In Style," and "The Hardest Mile" all show the changes between this one and their previous album The Meanest of Times, which was their most rock-oriented album (less punk, more rock). Other stand-outs are; "1953" which sounded traditional, but I'm willing to bet it wasn't (based mostly on the title). Still, just sounding traditional is an accomplishment, and the song is a damn good one, "Broken Hymns" and "The Irish Rover" which is the quintessential traditional song of the album, and traditionally is an amazing song. It would be hard to mess that one up, it's been done so much before you that it would be an accomplishment to release a crappy version.
I feel that it ought to be mentioned that Going Out In Style is a concept album, revolving around the life, love and death of the fictional Cornelius Larkin, but you wouldn't get that from the album (at least not on the first time through). If someone hadn't told me (by someone I mean Wikipedia and Allmusic) I would have never recognized it at all. It falls into the crux of most concept album, of not being clear (even a little), relying on dedicated fans to put all of the pieces together, to make the story. Just a heads up.
Going Out In Style is a great step forward for Dropkick Murphys, finally bringing enough folk to the table for all the people. It's taken them over a decade to get to this point, but I can finally say I'm looking forward to their next release. Up to now it's always been "Oh, a new Dropkick Murphys album? Eh, why not?" Meanwhile Flogging Molly gets gasps of excitement. I'm still not at that level for Dropkick, but Going Out In Style is helping me get there. Seriously, their best work yet.