Fat Wreck Chords finally has its answer to the Dropkick Murphys. Rather than Boston Irish, The Real McKenzies are Vancouver Scottish, but the bagpipes and punked-up versions of traditional Scottish songs have the same feel.
Who’d have thought that Celtic punk would become its own genre?
Like the Murphys and Flogging Molly, the McKenzies mix a dash of Clash-style punk with a shot of traditional instrumentation and a healthy pint or two of attitude, and in fact, the song “Best Day Until Tomorrow” sounds like an answer to Flogging Molly’s “Worst Day Since Yesterday.”
Also like those bands, their drinking ability seems to be an early and obvious focus–begging for a place on the jukebox at your local watering hole.
It’s amazing, though, that even a band with such an obvious gimmick–excuse me, I meant distinctive sound–still comes out sounding so much like every other band on Fat Wreck Chords (aside from Against Me! and the Soviettes, that is). The guitars, frenetic drums, and harmonies owe far more to ‘90s pop-punk than anything Scottish or otherwise.
Their songs are catchy, witty, and polished, but lack the variety and authenticity of Flogging Molly and the Clash-style working-class pride of the Dropkick Murphys, and instead come out just a bit too much like something you’ve heard many times before. That worked when I was a teenager, rushing out to find more bands that sounded like the ones I already knew, but the older and more crotchety I get, the more I want bands that sound like they’re trying to do something for themselves.
Still, if you need some new drinking music, you could definitely do worse.