Year 6, Day 33: Happiness… Is Definitely NOT a Fish You Can Catch

Year 6, Day 33: Our Lady Peace – Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch

Track Listing

  1. One Man Army
  2. Happiness & The Fish
  3. Potato Girl
  4. Blister
  5. Is Anybody Home?
  6. Waited
  7. Thief
  8. Lying Awake
  9. Annie
  10. Consequence of Laughing
  11. Stealing Babies

About the Album

Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch (or from here on out, Happiness…) is the third studio album album from Canadian alternative rockers, Our Lady Peace. The album was recorded January 1999 through June 1999 and released on September 21st 1999 through Columbia Records. The album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Charts and is certified 3x platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

Thoughts on the Album

Let’s finish this week out, weird. Did you know that happiness isn’t a fish you can catch? If you didn’t, well now you know. I remember back in high school (2005-2008) looking at this kid’s backpack and he had either written on it in white fabric paint or a pin that read “OUR LADY PEACE”. I was trying figure out what it meant. So using the dial up internet and after three hours of searching the internet, I discovered that they were a rock band from Canada. So figured to check them out. Flash forward to present day and two of the albums that have stuck with me have been their second album, Clumsy and today’s album, and their third, Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch.

I don’t know why these two albums have stuck with me since high school. Maybe it’s the pure ambition and grandeur that these albums have. But anyway onto Happiness…. II’m to make the argument that Happiness… is flat out Our Lady Peace‘s best album they’ve produced. Having some of the band’s more memorable cuts like One Man Army and Stealing BabiesHappiness… also combines the many different styles of their first two albums. The band does an amazing job of effectively incorporating the song writing and musical depth that was Naveed with the catchy hooks and accessibility of Clumsy into an album that is fun, interesting album that is a piece of quintessential 1990’s alternative rock. However, this is not Our Lady Peace just resting on their laurels. Nope, not by a long shot. This album builds off of previous successes. It’s an album that sounds, fresh, new, and exciting all at the same time, which is something other bands in the genre can’t say they achieved this feat.

The true showcase of Happiness… is vocalist Raine Maida. His vocals take front and center stage and are excellent. In a genre were you need powerful vocals, Maida has them. The music is energetic and lively and at some points, emotional. I will say about Maida’s vocals is that, they are at their most bizarre (seriously give Annie or Consequence of Laughing a listen, and you’ll find out just what I mean). His vocals, however bizarre at points on the album are exceedingly enjoyable to listen to. The lyrics and song writing are just as ambiguous and metaphorical as previous releases. It’s 43 minutes of Our Lady Peace is at their best as they wave their magic wand through infectious, anthemic choruses; with soft, vocal driven verses; as well as acoustic intros that are absolutely chilling and rhythm sections that the entirety of the band makes contributions to.

The album opener, One Man Army, is a mid-tempo rocker and an incredibly upbeat cut. It has arguably the best and most effective chorus on the album with Maida’s vocals seemingly stealing the spotlight. However, the driving bass lines, guitar riffs, and keys add much needed depth around Maida’s vocals. The follow up track, Happiness & The Fish, takes it in an entirely different direction (and atmosphere). While One Man Army is more upbeat, Happiness & The Fish is more serious. Albeit, Happiness & The Fish maintains that frantic edge that it’s predecessor has, the lyrical content is a complete 180. Here the lyrical content rather than musical ability is on full display. The second single, Is Anybody Home?, is a incredibly song that starts of with muted vocals before Maida explodes onto the scene with a driving bass groove, pounding drums, and an incredibly talk box melody that burrows into your head and stays there. Then it drops right off into the chorus with subdued guitars and vocals.

The album is closed out by the tracks, Consequences of Laughing and Stealing Babies in fantastically strong fashion. Consequences of Laughing features bass lines and guitar riffs that grow during the verses were Raida’s vocals shine. It’s here on Consequence of Laughing where Maida goes into the strangest falsetto I’ve ever heard. Stealing Babies is the strongest track on the album, in humblest of opinions. It’s tense and angsty atmosphere that builds up into this soft and jazzy interlude that just explodes into a chaotic mess of heavy distortion guitar riffs, keys, bass lines, and drums.

Conlcusion

I’m upset… Happiness is not a fish you can catch

Happiness… Is Not a Fish You Can Catch is an incredibly strong (and somehow peak Canadian) album. Blending together what made their two previous albums work best with more infectious hooks and accessibility, Our Lady Peace is at top form. While every track seems to follow a formula, they all manage to sound fresh and new; though some tracks are weaker than other tracks. Frontman Raine Maida‘s unique and memorable falsetto is so much fun and enjoyable to listen to. Happiness… is one of the better cuts of 1990’s alternative rock.

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Year 6, Day 32: Linkin Park’s Empowering Debut… “Hybrid Theory”

Year 6, Day 32: Linkin Park – Hybrid Theory

Track List

  1. Papercut
  2. One Step Closer
  3. With You
  4. Points of Authority
  5. Crawling
  6. Runaway
  7. By Myself
  8. In the End
  9. A Place For My Head
  10. Forgotten
  11. Cure for the Itch
  12. Pushing Me Away

About the Album

Hybrid Theory is the debut album from American rock band, Linkin Park. The album was recorded from March 2000 through July 2000 and released on October 24th 2000 through Warner Brother Records. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and is certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America with well over 11+ million albums sold in the United States of America alone. The album is ranked number eleven in Billboard‘s Top 200 albums of the decade (2000-2009). Single In the End peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, number 1 on Billboard‘s Top Alternative Songs (Modern Rock), and number three on Billboard‘s Top Mainstream Rock Songs.

Thoughts on the Album

Man, it comes back to me… in the end. And in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Every once in a while, there comes a band or an album that changes and challenges the perceptions of a music genre.Now then, whether or not that band or album is original depends, but however, there are always bands that produce the same exact ideas that never make the mainstream. Now then, for a #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT), let us travel back in time to 2000. It’s the new millennium (technically a.k.a. mathematically speaking the year 2000 wasn’t, but let’s just go along with it) and the radio airwaves are a mess. Dominated by grunge, alternative rock, bubblegum/boy band pop, and rap, the airwaves are crowded. The clock had struck midnight and it was time for something new. Enter Linkin Park and the debut album Hybrid Theory.

Hybrid Theory blurred the lines of many genres, but no more than rap and rock, taking rock elements like guitars and drums and fusing them with a DJ and electronic beats. What we got was an album that landed at the right place and right time in music history and skyrocketed off the charts in meteoric fashion. The album itself is not just one of the top selling debut albums of all time, but top selling albums of the last decade (2000-2009). It was one of the first albums I ever owned and one the first albums my dad called “noise pollution”. One of the biggest things about Linkin Park is just how accessible they really are, steering away from most profanity. The single One Step Closer drove the band into the mainstream, showing off it’s metal chops with that unmistakable and unforgettable guitar riff in the introduction of the song. Then, the rap/hip hop elements enter help build the song into a climax where the band jams out as if it was just a regular rock band. The verses have an ebb-and-flow to them, building up then coming back down after the chorus. It’s the late Chester Bennington‘s screams that highlight the explosive chorus. A perfect song to choose as the lead single, showing off catchy guitar riffs and the clear screams of Bennington.

However, it is because of one song that this album had such a launch. The fourth single, In the End. It’s a slower tempo tune, but man oh man, is it awesome. That haunting piano introduction sets the tone with some sparse electronic elements mixed in for some flair before Bennington sings out…

It starts with one…

Mike Shinoda enters with rapping verses as electronic drum beats keep pace. But it’s the chorus where the song comes back into the rock realm when the live drums and power chords enter. That chorus though. It’s one of the best choruses I’ve ever heard. It’s one that I love to sing along to. It’s so damn infectious that I don’t even think a vaccine could prevent it from infecting you. It’s a track whose strength is being able to switch back and forth between the two realms of hip hop/rap and rock and roll.

Quick hits: Crawling is a hell of a song. Not on the same scale as One Step Closer or In the End, it still hit home. I’m one of those people that gets emotionally invested in the music I listen to. The instrumentals are strong and sharp and Bennington‘s vocals take the main stage. Papercut is the album opener and shows off the nu-metal, rap-metal, rap rock right off the band combining the guitar riffs with electronic elements. Here, Shinoda takes front and center on vocals with Bennington harmonizing.

Conclusion

Hybrid Theory is an atmospheric and ethereal album that is one of the greatest albums of the last decade. Hell, even most music critics and experts agree with that. But what Linkin Park did with Hybrid Theory, was they created an album that kids and teenagers could resonate with. An album that empowered an entire generation of pre-teens and teenagers. It’s an album that allowed kids and teens to know that what they are/were feeling, was okay. It allowed those kids and teens who were alienated to take solace in the creams and heavy power chords. And that my friends, may be the answer to why this album did so excellently and continues to do so.

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Year 6, Day 31: Going Heavy on the Killer, Light on the Filler with Sum 41

Year 6, Day 31: Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler

Track Listing

  1. Introduction to Destruction
  2. Nothing on My Back
  3. Never Wake Up
  4. Fat Lip
  5. Rhythms
  6. Motivation
  7. In Too Deep
  8. Summer
  9. Handle This
  10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
  11. All She’s Got
  12. Heart Attack
  13. Pain for Pleasure

About the Album

All Killer No Filler is the debut studio album from Canadian pop punk band, Sum 41. The album was recorded from September 2000 through March 2001 and released on May 8th 2001 through Island Records. The album peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard 200 and lead single Fat Lip peaked at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well as number sixty six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Single In Too Deep peaked at number ten on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as well. The album is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Thoughts on the Album

Pop punk is one of the few genres were it’s okay to not be revolutionary or progressive, which I can safely say that Sum 41 is not. Pop punk is genre where playing it safe works about 96.3% of the time. So what makes today’s album from Sum 41, All Killer No Filler so special? Outside of being uniquely Canadian, it’s another pop punk album that defined genre, band, and year. What makes All Killer No Filler special and a cut about the rest, is that Sum 41 created an album that has sound and competent songwriting and instrumental talent. That’s where it separates itself from the rest of the genre. This album represents a maturing band, albeit musically. There’s nothing wrong with playful or sophomoric humor in your songs.

The strong point of this album is that it is incredibly fun to listen to… and when combined with the instrumental performance on the album, makes it even stronger. Right off the bat, the guitar work is phenomenal. You can hear the influence that heavy metal had on this band, but it’s just strong enough to not over power their core style. However, Pain for Pleasure eschews this as an ode to glam metal. A welcome addition for those who might have been getting weary of their previous work.

All Killer No Filler does have things that are rather atypical for a pop punk album… mainly guitar solos and certain riffs. Most guitar solos are uncommon for pop punk and are not standard, factory-issued. In Too Deep has an excellent tapping solo. The solo and the opening riff of In Too Deep are unforgettable and instantly recognizable. This song is the cream of the crop when it comes to the guitar work on the album. What the album also does best if counteracting the weaker tracks with what are now considered to be pop punk classics (Fat LipIn Too Deep). Fat Lip, the lead single, was a massive hit that brought the band into the spotlight. A catchy introduction combined with pseudo-rapping verses that have unforgettable lyrics and an anthemic chorus, you have a classic seemingly genre defining song. This is the song that comes to mind when you think of pop punk.

Conclusion

All Killer No Filler is what comes to mind when you think of pop punk. With it’s atypical and nonstandard guitar riffs and solo, this album was one of the best of 2001. Fat Lip and In Too Deep both received massive airplay on the radio. Backed by infectious hooks and catchy melodic riffs, Sum 41 goes heavy on the killer and light on filler with All Killer No FillerIt’s an album that any casual fan of the pop punk genre can get into.

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Year 6, Day 30: Choosing My Friends Over You with New Found Glory

Year 6, Day 30: New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones

Track Listing

  1. Understatement
  2. My Friends Over You
  3. Sonny
  4. Something I Call Personality
  5. Head on Collision
  6. It’s Been a Summer
  7. Forget My Name
  8. Never Give Up
  9. The Great Houdini
  10. Singled Out
  11. Belated
  12. The Story So Far

About the Album

Sticks and Stones is the third studio album from New Found Glory. The album was recorded during the spring of 2002 and released on June 11th 2002 through MCA Records and Drive-Thru Records. The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America or RIAA. Lead single My Friends Over You peaked at number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as Billboard’s Modern Rock Songs Chart (Now known as the Alternative Songs Chart).

Thoughts on the Album

Not all of the albums I own are legendary albums where they are well known by people who don’t even listen to the band or the genre. Such is the case with New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones. Unless you listen to pop punk, you’ll probably not recognize the band or the album, but you have heard at least one song from this album. And that’s perfect acceptable. That’s one of the reasons I started this project, to introduce people so music that may not have heard before. Anyway, I digress. Today’s album comes from the peak of pop-punk’s popularity in the early-to-mid 2000’s, it’s New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones.

Much in the same vein as say, Blink-182 or Simple Plan or even Sum-41New Found Glory‘s style of music is catchy/infectious songs with pop sensibilities but a harder edge. Sticks and Stones is an energetic, youthful, and catchy album that is full of radio friendly pop hooks, infectious harmonies, and catchy choruses. That is the formula for NFG‘s style. You hear it right off the bat with album opener, Understatement. So let’s go down the list here shall we… catchy, sing-a-long chorus? Check. Pop-laden hooks? Check. Energetic song? Oh yeah, check. One of the best songs on the album, Understatement brings the energy right off the bat in a way that’s not an… ( •_•) ( •_•)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■) understatement.

(Yeah, I’m sorry.)

Next comes the pièce de résistance of the album…. My Friends Over You. It has everything, and is arguably one of the top pop-punk and rock songs from the 2000’s. It’s a song that you can find on all those compilation albums (That’s What I Call… or whatever). A song about choosing your friends over your girl/boyfriend, it’s hook filled verses and infectious choruses will instantly grab hold of you and not let go. Now then looking for some emotion? Check out the tribute to lead singer Jordan Pundik‘s late grandfather, Sonny. It’s NFG at their most emotion and I would also say, vulnerable. Head on Collision, the second single from the album is in the same vein. Both songs have lyrics that one can easily connect to and relate to.

Quick hits: Singled Out is arguably the best song off this album. Yes, even better than My Friends Over You. Lyrically it is the best one from this album. It has the best chorus on the album and the bridge is pretty flipping awesome. The Story So Far is a decent/good closer. The song perfectly sums up the album. Containing everything that makes NFG, who they are. Pop-laden hooks, infectious choruses, and great verses. While not in the “Mariano Rivera” level of album closers, it ranks near the middle-top.

Conclusion

Looking for a lighthearted, possibly sophomoric, and heartfelt album? New Found Glory‘s Sticks and Stones is for you. It’s a pop punk album that is light on the filler tracks, which is hard to come by in the genre. While most of the songs do have a lifespan, which is one of the downsides to this album, it still has replay value. Definitely album that defined the mid-2000’s when it came to pop punk and helped cement the genre’s mainstay in music for the rest of the decade.

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Year 6, Day 29: Because the Night and the Godmother of NYC Punk

Year 6, Day 29: Patti Smith Group – Easter

Track List

  1. Till Victory
  2. Space Monkey
  3. Because the Night
  4. Ghost Dance
  5. Babelogue
  6. Rock and Roll ******
  7. Privilege (Set Me Free)
  8. We Three
  9. 25th Floor
  10. High on Rebellion
  11. Easter

About the Album

Easter is the third studio album from the Patti Smith Group/Patti Smith. The album was recorded in 1977 and released on March 3rd 1978 through Arista Records. The album peaked at number twenty on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and lead single Because the Night peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Hot 100.

Thoughts on the Album

After today, we are down to our last ten albums of the project, so let’s jump right into it. The New York punk scene was centered inside CBGB, a now famed and defunct rock venue in The Bowery neighborhood of Manhattan. Inside the rock venue gave birth to many an aspiring punk rocker, one of which was Patti SmithPatti Smith is, like Deborah Harry (Debbie Harry), one of the godmothers of punk rock. But not just any punk rock, but the New York City scene. It took me a looooong time to get on board with Smith. When I first listened to her 1978 album Easter, it wasn’t what I was expecting for punk. I was expecting loud, raw, and a fast attack with no heed to instrumentation or orchestration. However she is just as an important figure in punk as say The Stooges or MC5. And while punk rockers like Iggy Pop of The Stooges wanted to tear down the rock and roll establishment, Patti Smith is an artist, whose tunes draw such visceral and vivid imagery that puts her in the same league as Jim Morrison of The Doors.

I’m going to frank with you, her tunes on Easter, while primal and raw, are not easy rockers. Easter is somehow both an album that was commercially successful, more pop-radio friendly, and yet more divisive and derisive… all at once. The album opener, Till Victory, is a fantastically solid rocker. Babelogue highlights the streaming volatile poetry of Smith. The closer, Easter, is a tender and otherworldly tune that sends the listener home on a more somber note. However, it is because of two songs that define this album: Because the Night and Rock and Roll Nigger.

Because the Night is an amazingly excellent track that was written partly by the one and only Bruce Springsteen. Yes, you read that right, The Boss. It is Springsteen’s lyrical template, but Smith gave this song both it’s form and feeling. Completing the lyrics and making it her own, many recognize it as a hit from Smith, even if they don’t recognize her name right away, Because the Night is an epic and emotion journey that gave her a commercial hit without the sacrifice of artistic integrity. Which it’s next to impossible to do that nowadays.

Now to juxtapose the infectious Because the Night with Rock and Roll Nigger. Yeah that very same “n word”; for which it’ll called Rock and Roll ****** from henceforth. It’s obviously a track that is not radio friendly and never be. The track was Smith’s attempt to redefine language, which for me, is pretty shocking. It’s extremely dangerous to play with such a loaded term, despite the fact Smith explains her reasoning within the song. Still, despite different genres of music’s attempts to “reclaim the term”, the song still carries around a lot of shock to it.

Conclusion

Easter is an album that is… “more communicative” rather than accessible or commercial. While Patti Smith didn’t exactly get rock and roll to steer away from it’s self-indulgent lifestyle, she did manager to inspire generation of would be punks to create their version of rock and their version of artistry. It is because of Because the Night, the unwanted (and unfinished) Bruce Springsteen demo that was just gathering dust in his archive, that launched Patti Smith into the stratosphere.  And maybe that is a testimony to her mastery of both art and music.

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The Broad Street Playlist Recap for 3/12/2018 – 3/17/2018

It’s another week in the books here at the Sounds of Broad Street, let us find out what you might have missed from this past week!

Monday, March 12th 2018

On Monday, we ran for the hills and ran for our lives, busting out Iron Maiden‘s breakthrough album, The Number of the Beast. It’s an album that is one of the most important in heavy metal history, let alone rock and roll. It sets a high water mark as the pinnacle of heavy metal as it represents a perfect balance between accessibility and more challenging technique and intensity. A classic in every sense of the word, check out The Number of the Beast!

Tuesday, March 13th 2018

On Tuesday, we discovered that one way or another Blondie‘s album Parallel Lines was gonna get you. Parallel Lines set up an iconic formula that many artists to this day emulate and exploit. That’s how good it is… you know something’s good when others attempt to mimic or copy it. Exactly how good is it? 40 years later and songs from the album still receive radio airplay. Check out Parallel Lines!

Wednesday, March 14th 2018

On Wednesday, we couldn’t stop here, because this is Bat Country. So we drove on through Bat Country with Avenged Sevenfold to the City of Evil. Chock full of references to Hunter S. Thompson‘s Fear and Loathing in Las VegasCity of Evil is one of the premier albums of the mid-2000’s. The album has the perfect amount of just about everything and there is the right amount of balance of melody and technicality as to not overpower or distract the listener. Avenged Sevenfold made their metal more accessible and in the process, more enjoyable. And you should always #TrustTheProcess. Check out City of Evil!

Thursday, March 15th 2018

On Thursday, we found out What Separates Me From You and according to A Day to Remember, it’s not much. You call the lyrics cliches, whiny, petulant, and immature, the lyrics and tracks are thoroughly addictive. A Day to Remember refines their core metalcore sound and builds it around a pop punk base that could fill 80,000+ seat arenas. The album blurs a mythical line between the clean vocals of pop punk/emo punk and the raw and hyper aggressive/extreme vocals of metalcore in such a way that makes the album more accessible to newer listeners. Check out What Separates Me From You!

Friday, March 16th 2018

Flashback Friday! We traveled back to the early 1970’s and discovered Grand Funk‘s (or Grand Funk Railroad) breakthrough, We’re an American Band. While the review was complete with The Simpsons references, many people know who Grand Funk is thanks to We’re an American Band. It’s an album that is a piece of American hard rock history and paved the way for arena rock. It’s a simple album that appeals to the masses. Check out the hard rock styles of We’re an American Band!

Saturday, March 17th 2018

On Saint Patrick’s Day 2018, we busted out the Celtic punk/Celtic rock of Boston based, Dropkick Murphys and their album, The Meanest of Times. No one brings the passion and emotion and power of an entire city behind them, quite like the Dropkick MurphysThe Meanest of Times bulks up on the DKM storytelling, whiles staying relatively tried and true sound and style. Incorporating traditional Irish folk songs and giving them a good Celtic punk kick, The Meanest of Times is sure to have songs sung while shitfaced on green beer and standing shoulder to shoulder at the bar. Check out The Meanest of Times!

Spotify Playlist Recap

As always check back next week for a whole nother slate of new albums! Thank you for stopping by!

Year 6, Day 28: It was The Meanest of Times

Year 6, Day 28: Dropkick Murphys – The Meanest of Times

Track List

  1. Famous for Nothing
  2. God Willing
  3. The State of Massachusetts
  4. Tomorrow’s Industry
  5. Echoes On “A.” Street
  6. Vices and Virtues
  7. Surrender
  8. (F)lannigan’s Ball
  9. I’ll Begin Again
  10. Fairmount Hill
  11. Loyal to No One
  12. Shattered
  13. Rude Awakenings
  14. Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya
  15. Never Forget

About the Album

The Meanest of Times is the sixth studio album from Boston punk rockers, the Dropkick Murphys. The album was recorded from April through July 2007 and released on September 18th, 2007 through Born & Bred Records. The album is the last to feature guitarist Marc Orrell who left the band following the tour in the support of the album. The album peaked at number 20 on the Billboard 200.

Thoughts on the Album

Top o’ thee morn, afternoon, or even’in lads and lassies! It’s Saint Patrick’s Day here in the United States of America and what better than to share some Irish American Celtic punk rock. I mean playing some Dropkick Murphys on St. Patrick’s Day in America is about as Irish and American as drinking yourself into oblivion as most people get. There’s the thing, The Meanest of Times isn’t even my favorite Dropkick Murphys album, that would be The Warriors Code. But hey, it’s whatever; The Meanest of Times is still a damn fine album if not a wee bit bulky. In an airing of my grievances, The Meanest of Times is basically The Warriors Code or Blackout part deux. But let’s be honest is too much of the same thing from the Dropkick Murphys a bad thing? Nope.

The Meanest of Times is however, the band’s most catchiest and upbeat record in their arsenal. This is because of their use of accelerated paces and uplifting vocals. In traditional DKM fashion, they waste zero time getting the motor running with album opener, Famous for Nothing. A track that slaps you in the face, pulls you in for big kiss, and keeps you wanting more. God Willing continues on this theme, with soaring melodies and an atmosphere of a drunken bar fight on St. Patrick’s Day. There are tracks like these found all over The Meanest of Times with Vices and Virtues being a prime example. It’s line of…

Whiskey, war, suicide, and guns

Is incredibly hard to let go off. These songs stick in your head, like a traditional Irish tune blasting at the pub on March 17th. However it wouldn’t be DKM without throwing some curveballs and boy do they not disappoint. The State of Massachusetts comes fully equipped with a mandolin riff and Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is a fantastic cover of an old traditional Irish tune, Johnny Comes Marching Home.

What The Meanest of Times does best is , expand on the storytelling. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill are more prime examples of the growth of DKM‘s storytelling abilities. (F)lanigan’s Ball, another traditional Irish song, features guest vocals from Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners. Combined with Al Barr and Ken Casey the four vocalists all trade off on sections and parts, retelling the story of a drunken ball. The mandolin makes its return on Fairmount Hill, which is the closest thing to a ballad on this album. The follow up track might just be the band’s best and most innovative song… it’s Loyal to No One. The bagpipes and accordion have some of the best instrumental work to date. You know, just thinking about Loyal to No One on, lets say The Warriors Code, could have elevated that album to classic or legendary level.

Conclusion

No other band brings the passion and emotion of an entire city into their music, quite like the Dropkick Murphys can do. With tracks like Famous for Nothing and God Willing, I can feel raw emotion and passion that Boston has. Tracks like (F)lanigan’s Ball and Fairmount Hill, are takes on old traditional Irish folk tunes, and send reminders of the band’s, the city’s, and many listeners’ heritage as well. While the Celtic and Irish flavor is slightly less pronounced than on other DKM releases, that nevertheless doesn’t take away from the storytelling. While there are heartfelt moments found throughout the album, you can rest assured knowing that this is the Dropkick Murphys we are talking about here. There is enough raw emotions packed into the 45+ minutes of beer-slinging, riotous Celtic punk rock glory. The Meanest of Times is rousing album filled with tracks that’ll fit in nicely with the DKM arsenal of blue collar, gritty, beer soaked, (Celtic) punk rock anthems.

(Side note: (F)lanigan’s Ball is the DKM cover/version of Lanigan’s Ball; while Fairmount Hill is the Boston influenced version of Spancil Hill; Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya is the cover of Johnny Comes Marching Home)

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