What I’m drinking to this week is Celtic punk rockers Dropkick Murphys’ hot of the presses new album Signed and Sealed In Blood. Still going strong since 1998 (albeit with several line up changes) the Boston boy’s latest release is very different to their last, the concept album Going Out In Style with bassist Ken Casey calling it ‘just us having fun and making the most catchy, singalong kind of songs we can.‘ It is pretty much sacrilegious to not have a drink listening to the band who’s discography boasts such anthems as Barroom Hero and Kiss Me I’m S**tfaced. So pull up a barstool, grab a brew and sing along!
Signed & Sealed kicks off with the very appropriately titled The Boys Are Back that brings up the faster old punk riffs a seasoned Dropkick fan will adore with the loud, rough and choral vocals all backed up with the trademark bagpipes that delivered altogether separates this band from all the other Celtic influenced rock bands on the scene. Prisoner Song that follows, starts with a folkish hook that wouldn’t sound out of place played at any pub in Dublin. As Dropkick have grown as a band, as has their appreciation and production of just brilliant Celtic music alongside their punk and ‘oi’ roots. The way they fuse the two together in this album really rounds off their style well. It’s a lot tighter and more well constructed than their older albums from the mid-2000s. Songs like Rose Tattoo really show the band has grown up. It’s a beautiful and much softer song than you would normally hear from them. It echoes a lot of Flogging Molly’s track from the album of the same name, Float. Slower, deeper but still with the punky edge in the lyrics.
The album throws you a curve ball that the Red Sox would be proud of halfway through with a song about a dysfunctional family at Christmas time, The Seasons Upon Us. It is undoubtedly a Christmas song with jingling bells and the lyrics ‘there’s mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung, they call this Christmas where I’m from‘. Just when you thought you’d gotten over your Christmas hangover too. It is bizarre having a ‘seasonal’ song put halfway through an album and not at the end as an ‘added bonus track’ or something similar, but the way this album was going it’s very welcome, not to mention the fact it fits in with the tradition of Celtic style Christmas songs not being all about Santa and presents. (Readers need only listen to Fairytale of New York to find this out.)
After The Seasons Upon Us, Dropkick bring back the ‘catchy singalong kind of songs’ that Ken Casey mentioned. The Battle Rages On fits this bill oh so well. It’s fast, furious and fun all at the same time. And I dare you not to tap your feet to the cool old time rock and roll bass that kicks in 15 seconds into Out On The Town. You’ll be singing along to the chorus fairly soon too. These songs are vintage Dropkick,and just when you thought ‘all this album is missing to be perfect Dropkick Murphys is the drunken, propping up the bar ballad’ it finishes with End Of The Night. Definitely a song to raise a drink or a lighter too whilst the bouncers try to kick you out. The lyrics ‘The bartenders spoken and he’s made it clear; if you ain’t going home then you ain’t staying here‘ makes this song live up to it’s name. It’s a great big middle finger to the cry of ‘last orders’ and puts Semisonic’s Closing Time to shame. It just perfectly sums up that time of the night when the lights come up, the music stops, the bar’s stopped serving but you’re still singing the last song that was played before being ushered out into the cold night, drunker than you think and hoping to find a bar still open let alone one that will serve you.
So it’s agreed, you certainly need a drink for this album. There is an incredibly obvious choice that almost goes without saying. A certain Irish stout made in St James’ Gate, Dublin that’s older than the constitution of the United States. Yes, a good old pint of Guinness (4.3% abv) is a strong and safe option here but for something a little different why not give a Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager (4.8%) a try? It’s got a lot of citrus flavours without being too sharp and a smooth texture, a real fully flavoured and truly tasty beer from the band’s hometown. For something a little more discerning try a classic cocktail that originated from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book known as a ‘Cameron’s Kick‘.
‘Cameron’s Kick‘ Specs
2 Parts Blended Scotch Whiskey
2 Parts Irish Whiskey
1 Part Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Part Orgeat (Almond) Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Imbibe responsibly and enjoy the tunes!