Nevermind The Posers

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Dropkick Murphy’s New Album ‘Going Out In Style’ March 6, 2011

Filed under: CD Reviews — NVMP @ 10:41 PM
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Review by Angela Blasi
I got myself a sneak peek into Dropkick Murphy’s latest installment in a series of raw punk rock charged, Boston beer-drinking, “Irish Eyes Are Smiling”- type albums.  A band that was introduced to me back in high school, I’ve always loved the use of traditional Irish culture and its brash and brawny fusion with Boston charm.  Their seventh album to date, Going Out In Style features 13 tracks of everything you would ever expect from the band.  Except, that seems to be my very problem with it.

Kicking off the disc and bearing the sole responsibility of carrying and setting the tone for the entire album is a track titled “Hang ‘Em High.”  The song begins with a great drum beat on a floor tom, slowly gaining strength with the addition of choral style vocals, all chiming in unison with gusto “hang “em high!”  Cue the bag pipes, gritty vocals, catchy hooks and riffs.  Other tracks, such as “Memorial Day.” seem to offer a slight variation on the previous theme.  As is so characteristic to Dropkick’s sound, traditional Celtic sounds are fused with clean yet edgy uptempo guitar riffs and lyrics, begging the listener through voice, drink and song to join the celebration.  I feel like no matter what album I’ve ever listened to by this band, I always get the same few variations on the same themes.  Be it a solo instrument intro that is gradually joined by other instruments only to drop the hook into this full-bodied energy that simply forces the taste of every St. Patrick’s Day you’ve ever taken the “Irish for a Day” thing too seriously back into your mouth or the 1-2-3-4 thirty-second note shred of a punk rock guitar, the call to arms of men and who can forget the teary-eyed mournful cry of the ballad.  I feel like each album is simply a mathematical formula stated and restated in a few different ways.  Two people can take the same equation and do completely different work, but still end up with the same result.  It seems as though they refine the production and beef up the sound with every passing album.  It’s like going through the filtration process to turn Popov into Grey Goose; either way you’re still drinking vodka.

Admittedly, I still like the band.  Much like the culture itself, the band captures the spirit of storytelling as it is passed down from generation to generation.  This is why they are able to keep making album after album in the same vein.  Something about it always manages to strike at the core of humanity as the songs they compose are not intricate orchestral pieces, but simply the group being the only people they know how to be while having the courage to do it flawlessly without wavering or compromising their passion.

To be honest, half way through the album I lost interest.  I got bored with each passing track, try as I might to labor through each one.  Then again, one shouldn’t have to labor through an album.  I crave change, growth and experimentation; adaptability in the face of an evolving music scene and punk rock’s ever uncertain niche in it.  I mean, hey, if you’re going for one thing and one thing only, then you might as well be the best at it.  That is, of course, unless you start talking to Flogging Molly fans.  The band’s fifteen year history has seen changes in the lineup, yet I feel there has been little change to the music.  And while many fans of bands everywhere often lament “I wish they  sounded like they did on their first album,” I can promise you they do not.  I want to know what was so different or great about Going Out in Style besides the fact that Bruce Springsteen lends his vocals on the song “Peg O’ My Heart.”  Surely, fellas, in all this time you’ve had to have had some experiences and heard other sounds from new and different places and artists that might translate into inspiration on your latest endeavors.

I’m not saying the album is bad by any means.  In fact, for what the band is known for doing, they do it extremely well.  You can’t argue with the fact that their live shows are solid in-your-face sets; evenings of inclusion where the entire audience embodies the lighthearted, yet hard-working wisdom of the Irish culture in song either.

All in all, as a fan it left me wanting more and feeling a bit disappointed.  I can say this album is not one that will be making its way into my personal collection any time soon.

 

A Walk Through Warped Tour- 7/18/10 @ Monmouth Park Racetrack August 13, 2010

Review by TNT

Bands I saw: AM Taxi, Face to Face, Left Alone, Anarbor, The Sparring, The Casualties, All American Rejects, Sum 41, The Mighty Regis, and Alkaline Trio
Bands I wish I saw: Reel Big Fish, Andrew W.K., The Flatliners, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Middle Finger Salute, and Riverboat Gamblers

It doesn’t feel like summer until the Vans Warped Tour rolls into town.  I’ve gone consecutively since 2003 and before I journey to the tour, I’m always convinced it’s Christmas morning.  Well, at least that’s what it feels like to me.  I describe it as one of the most exciting feelings in the world…knowing you’re going to see a festival that lasts all day with some of the greatest punk and rock n’ roll bands around (from legends to up and coming artists), knowing that you’re going to discover loads of new music, and meet some cool people who actually enjoy the same music as you.  Now, I know there has been an increase in posers at the Warped Tour, but if you think about it like that, you’re not going to experience the same overwhelming excitement-filled feeling.  There are posers everywhere, let’s face the fact that there isn’t much we can do about it other than try to set them on the right path (and perhaps introduce them to this website).

I’d also like to note that Kevin Lyman, creator of the Warped Tour, does not pick the bands based on what YOU listen to.  When you create your own US/Canada tour, you can choose whoever you want to play.  If the bands were the same every single year or there was a limited variety of genres or if unsigned bands weren’t given a chance, I think it would get pretty boring and repetitive.  I also understand that if he didn’t go somewhat of the corporate route (mainly finding such huge sponsors in addition to Vans), this tour would not be able to go so far.  If you have beef with the tour because you think it “went corporate” or “sold out” then you obviously don’t know how expensive it is to financially support a tour of this size.  I would also like to thank Lyman for keeping the price of a ticket as low as possible and getting the tour to think and act green.

With all that being said, I did have a couple of gripes with the tour this year.  First of all, the NJ/NY dates were gypped out of seeing practically all the worth-while headliners: Anti-Flag, Big D and the Kid’s Table, The Dickies, Dropkick Murphys, Everclear, Street Sweeper Social Club, Streetlight Manifesto (they’re from NJ!) and The Bouncing Souls (also from the NJ/NYC area) were NOT in attendance.  What the fuck?  Without these acts, I feel like our ticket prices should have been cut in half.  Big freakin’ whoop; All American Rejects and Sum 41 don’t even compare to the bands I just listed.  I’m hoping some of them have upcoming concerts in the area, at least that would justify why they skipped NJ.  Secondly, due to an immense amount of traffic (half was from tour congestion and the other half was shore traffic), I was unable to see two of the greatest acts to play the NJ date.  Andrew W.K. and Reel Big Fish were the first acts to play.  I know I’m the only one to blame for this, since the acts are randomly picked for time slots on said day throughout the tour, but it still grinds my gears.  At least we snagged an interview with Andrew W.K. (will be posted soon).

Trying not to let the NJ line up bother me, my hungry ears and I were on the hunt for some new music.  The first band I stumbled upon was AM Taxi, a punk rock band from Chicago.  Let me explain filing AM Taxi under the punk rock category…they have both elements, in their natural form.  Punk lyrics are noted with simple chords and the guitar riffs are pure rock n’ roll, with driving drums beats that bring it all together.  There is also somewhat of a modern pop hook here, an edge that pulls you in.  I was impressed, especially with their lyrics and energy.  “The Mistake” is extremely well written with lyrics that stun you, (much like Brand New did for me back in the day) and the keys really bring this song together.  It’s hard to say punk music has a heart, but AM Taxi does, their music just hits home.  Right after their set, I made a personal note to pick up their latest album We Don’t Stand A Chance.

Coming back from an ever-changing line up and a long hiatus, Face to Face was the next band I sought out.  What a performance!  It’s been way too long and I was so excited to see them play.  I file Face to Face as one of the original Warped Tour bands, also included are Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, NOFX, and The Casualties.  Face to Face is fucking back and they’re releasing a new album this fall entitled Laugh Now, Laugh Later.  It was great to hear them play again and I pray they’re on the tour in 2011.  SoCal punk rock (F2F since 1991) will never die.

Left Alone was up next.  They remind me of Rancid so much; people look at me like I’m crazy when I say this, but that’s what I hear!  I guess Tim Armstrong and I have similar ears because after hearing Lonely Starts and Broken Hearts in 2004, he signed this band to his label, Hellcat Records.  Straight up, Left Alone is fast punk music with three chords and ska influences.  “Out of Tune Melody” made for a perfect circle pit.  I think I relate with Left Alone so well because they are a true DIY band.  Frontman Elvis Cortez started off as a roadie on the 2003 Warped Tour and when Lyman heard some music from the band, he appointed the band as the official Warped Tour BBQ band in 2004 and 2005.  I’m happy to see their hard work has paid off, as they officially played the tour this year.  See?  Sometimes all you need is good music and the rest will follow.

After Left Alone, I decided to check out what the hype was about with the band Anarbor.  Until today, I never gave the band a fair chance, but I’m glad I caught some songs.  I loved “You and I”; I feel that majority of pop rock bands would make this way more whiny and annoying.  Kudos.  I loved the lyrics in “Always Dirty, Never Clean” – ‘I’ve got bruises on my hands and knees/And a list of failures in between/Always dirty, I am never clean/Music is what you hear, and not what you see.’  When I get older and start doing needle-points and other old lady shit, I’m going to stitch this on a pillow.  “Gypsy Woman” has a great beat that makes it hard to stand still, but its not my favorite song.  I just hear Cage the Elephant and nothing else.  Anarbor released their first full length album on Hopeless records, 4/20/2010.

As I was getting read for Warped Tour this year, pre-listening to the bands, I came across The Sparring (Old Shoe Records) and knew they could not be missed.  Lead singer Joel Bourne cleared a space for himself to perform in front of the stage, stopping festival goers to stay for some music and pouring Monster Energy Drink on fans waiting in line for some meet n’ greet.  He stated that you can’t enjoy live music if you’re waiting in line for an autograph.  I say right on brother!  Borne had much to say, screaming his sarcastic punk lyrics.  This trio is powerful and I predict a solid future for them in the DIY punk rock community.  I recommend catching a live show soon.  Fair warning, the pit will be dangerous so be sure to bring it!

Being crunched for time, I was only able to catch one song from The Casualties.  Watching from the side of the stage, I felt like I was experiencing The Casualties (and the tour) for the first time all over again.

All American Rejects and Sum 41 performances left me with one question: Why?  I love the singles by All American Rejects, but never listened to the rest of their music.  Their big hits were of course covered; “Dirty Little Secrets,” “Swing, Swing,” and “Gives You Hell” were all played.  It was a good performance, but I felt like the members were distant, didn’t feel a connection.  It wasn’t an absent of energy, that was there, it just felt a little forced.  Perhaps the weight of touring has gotten the best of them on this particular date.  Lead Singer Tyson Ritter was promoting the campaign “Don’t Hate on Haiti”, spray painted on his white suit, with a clear mission statement being that if you forget about this disaster, its hatred.  He stated that he was touring to help raise money to build clean water wells for the people of Haiti.  Very noble.

With Sum 41, it felt like they were trying to relive their glory days with hits like “Fat Lip,” “All To Blame” and “The Hell Song”.  Their latest album, All the Good Shit: 14 Solid Gold Hits 2000-2008, was released in November 2008 and rumors of a new album in 2011 are buzzing around too.  Honestly, I miss Dave Baksh.  He brought a heavier punk sound to the group with his guitar style and it is missed.  I was less than thrilled with Sum 41.  I do wish Deryck Whibley a speedy recover though.  In Japan, where the band was set to play the Summer Sonic Rock Festival, Whibley was attacked on 8/6/10 in a bar by three men (and police) and aggravated a slipped disk injury in his back from 2007.

I wanted to like The Mighty Regis, but I just couldn’t.  They had a great performance, but for me it felt too much like they were impersonating Flogging Molly.  Both bands have seven members (6 male, 1 female), play the same instruments, and are both Celtic punk rock bands from Los Angeles.  It’s similar to the great debate of The Grateful Dead vs. Phish.  I was never able to get into Phish because I’m a deadhead and never saw (or heard) the point of getting into practically the same band.

Finally!  It was time to check out Alkaline Trio!  What a stellar performance, as usual!  I was happy to hear “Armageddon” and “Private Eye”, as From Here to Infirmary is an all-time favorite album of mine.  Personally, I haven’t seen Alkaline Trio live in some time, so every song was amazing to me; tons of energy, guts and love.  Also, the crowd was huge.  On their speakers, they stenciled on “Free the WM3” and “WM3.org”.  I am so touched that bands today are still supporting the West Memphis Three but furious that they’re still in jail.  Please visit WM3.org to find out what you can do to support and free the WM3.

In final summation, here are my thoughts on the tour this year:  Although I missed the majority of the bands I was excited to see, I made the most of the day.  I understand that set times are randomly selected every day of the tour, but it still stinks that I missed out on a few great acts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  I discovered a lot of new music and look forward to checking out more music by said bands.  Nevermind the Posers has attended Vans Warped Tour since 2003 and we’re looking forward to the lineup in 2011.

Don’t forget, to check out the bands mentioned in this review simply click on their names; they are linked to their MySpace pages.