There’s something in the (dirty) water in Boston that produces great street punk, something part Irish and steadfastly working-class that makes songs about hard work, unions, families, friendships and drinking sound heartfelt and makes even the most privileged WASP’s sing along. We already knew Mike McColgan from the Dropkick Murphys and his debut with the Street Dogs. Once again, he’s fronting a stellar lineup and singing a batch of workingman’s anthems that are worthy of his background—both with the Murphys and the career he left that band for, the Boston Fire Department.
Mike’s polished up his voice a bit since the old DKM days, and left behind the overtly Irish sound of that band in favor of a broader-based appeal that could simply be called rock ‘n roll. Bassist Johnny Rioux of my old favorite Boston band, the Bruisers, (and briefly of the Disasters, also reviewed this issue), and drummer Joe Sirois of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, along with the only non-Bostonian, Marcus Hollar, provide the rest of the Street Dogs’ sound, certainly a worthy compliment to any of their previous work.
The band’s songs range from the personal to the political, from uplifting anthems to folksy laments. The title track is a song of a soldier stuck in the desert, just wishing he could come home, and sounds like something you might actually hear a soldier singing. “Hands Down” is an anti-domestic-violence tirade, and “Tale of Mass Deception” is a sing-along polemic with a marching band beat and an Irish-folky feel reminiscent of early Dropkick Murphys.
The Street Dogs make music to sing, dance, punch things and drink to. They make the universal personal and the personal universal as well as utterly authentic. If I’d had this record a few weeks earlier, it’d be on my “Best of 2004” list.
-Sarah Jaffe, January 14th, 2005