Life of Good is a very good album! Very much a return to roots by the Mollies after the more boundary pushing Speed of Darkness. The general consensus around the “interweb” is Life is Good is the best thing Flogging Molly have done since Within a Mile of Homeor even Drunken Lullabies and I would very much agree – settled science. The young pretenders have been snapping at FMs heels for quite a while but Dave King and gang have stepped back into the ring to reclaim the Celtic-punk heavy weight title. So without a track-by-track, blow-by-blow review here are the highlights.
Welcome To Adamstown, with it’s ska/horn dance-ability. I actually grew-up not too far from Adamstown and went to school right beside it. There was nothing there when I was in school a lifetime a go, just fields and a country house. In the late 1990s/2000s there was a massive property boom in Ireland – developers built thousands of houses in west Dublin yet no real infrastructure was put in (shops, schools, churches – yep you atheists) then the whole thing went bust leaving unfinished streets and negative equity, unemployment and bank foreclosures. Now there are hundreds of houses but still noting there. Welcome To Adamstown gets the story right.
The Last Serenade (Sailors And Fisherman), reminiscent at times of the magnificent the son never shines on closed doors.
Flogging Molly are truly back and life is great.
There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1
The Hand Of John L. Sullivan
Welcome To Adamstown
Reptiles (We Woke Up)
The Day’s We’ve Yet To Meet
Life Is Good
The Last Serenade (Sailors And Fisherman)
The Guns Of Jericho
Crushed (Hostile Nations)
The Bride Wore Black
Until We Meet Again
Whiskey of the Damned are a Wisconsin based Celtic-punk outfit fronted by Irishman Eoin McCarthy. Not sure how an Irish man could end up in Wisconsin other than getting lost on the way to Chicago but Eoin’s bio has it that he has a long musical history staring playing at 9 with his farther Irish singer Finbar McCarthy and even getting guitar lessons along the line from Van Morrison – no mention of being lost though.
Now the first thing that strikes me about the Monsters are Real album is the band photo on the back, the band are in make-up, horror punk Misfits meets Alice Cooper make up. I’m not sure if Whiskey of the Damned are starting a new genre Celtic-Horror-Punk or if the face paint is just a play on the album name. Kind of hoping that it’s for real (though poking around the web I only see live pictures sans the grease paint).
It took me a few spins to start getting into Monsters are Real, initially I heard fast Celtic punk that reminds me of Flogging Molly meeting Lexington Field – fast and trashy but with a fiddle that says more Mid-West then West Cork. Then after those initial spins I notice something I should have picked up on the first spin that being the sheer power and quality of McCarthy’s voice, boy can this guy sing – power, clarity and passion like you wouldn’t believe. I’ll go out on a limb and say McCarthy has the finest voice in Celtic-punk (and that includes Dave King), maybe Van the Moan threw in a few vocal lessons to boot. Of course a good voice won’t do it alone, the band are tight as f#*k, loud and fast and the songs first class and while still fast and trashy
There are two types of bands that have long, successful careers. The bands that stick to the basics and the same tried and true formula that keeps the punters happy and screaming for more of the same – AC/DC, The Ramones, Motorhead – you always know what your getting from these guys. Then there are the groups that can reinvent themselves, change direction and bring along the fan base – U2, Bowie and Costello. Its a brave thing to try and change and its difficult to successfully bring along the fan base – Kiss, The Rolling Stones and even The Pogues faltered and stumbled when they did something outside the expected. So when FM put out “Don’t Shut ‘Em Down” as a teaser it was one of those “what the fu@k” moments as the entire FM army scratched their head. No pints! No pirates! More The Jam with a Celtic/industrial bent meets Billy Bragg and Michael Moore – the Detroit move must have really influenced Dave’s outlook on life.
So, what’s the rest of the album like – a mix of the newish stuff and stuff that would be more at home on Float or Within a Mile of Home. Unfortunately, if any of those oldish tracks did make it onto either of those album they wouldn’t be the memorable ones – and there lies the problem, good songs don’t just cut it for FM, they can’t be merely good and experimental, they need to be great (or have at least 3 great songs) and experimental to pull it off. They only get close once to great once on the track “Revolution”.
I’m going to give some of the benefit of the doubt to the use of new producer (Ryan Hewitt of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) and blame him for the newish tracks and the dulled sound and I’m gonna claim Speed…would have been so much better with Ted Hult or Steve Albin behind the glass.
In the end of the day Speed the Darkness is a good album with some brave ideas but not a great one and Flogging Molly needs to do great
Podcast#42 features the brand spanking new release from Flogging Molly – Speed Of Darkness. We also have music from Dropkick Murphys (just for comparison purposes), Shane MacGowan doing Yeats, a couple of tracks from fellow Pogue Terry Murray – Sweeneys Men (from 1968) and The Woods Band (from 2001). Chicago’s The Tossers sing about, well, Chicago and we round things out with Brendan Behan the original Irish-punk.
Brendan Behan, 1923- 1964. Playwright, Gunman, Convict, Drinker and all round Hell raiser. The Auld Triangle was first performed in his play The Quare Fellow and he beacame the model and inspiration for The Pogues, The Tossers and Flogging Molly – the image and the attitude
Shane MacGowan – An Irish Airman Forsees His Death – Now and in time to be
Flogging Molly – Speed Of Darkness – Speed Of Darkness
Flogging Molly – Saints & Sinners – Speed Of Darkness
Dropkick Murphys – Memorial Day – Going Out In Style
The Woods Band – The Dublin Jack Of All Trades – Music from the 5 corners of Hell
The Tossers – Chicago – Purgatory
Flogging Molly – Revolution- Speed Of Darkness
Sweeney’s Men – Waxie’s Dargle – single a-side, 1968
Brendan Behan – Who Fears To Speak Of Easter Week
Flogging Molly will be releasing a limited edition 7″ in honor of Record Store Day, this Saturday the 16th! The vinyl features “Don’t Shut ‘Em Down” along with an exclusive acoustic version of “Saints and Sinners”, both off Speed of Darkness.