Street Dogs - Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Street Dogs

Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing (2018)

Century Media

It’s almost hard to believe that Street Dogs have been around for 16 years. It’s also hard to believe that a lot of people still think of them as the ‘new’ band from the original singer of the Dropkick Murphys, Mike McColgan. While the two bands will forever be linked, Street Dogs have carved out their own significant place in the punk lexicon. Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing is only going to confirm their legendary status. The band’s first full length in eight years is a powerhouse from start to finish. It can be kind of a slow burn, but once it gets you, it will burrow in deep.

The title track starts things off, and it’s just the first of the album’s many calls to action. At their heart, most of these new tunes are punk protest songs. Stand For Something covers all the topics you’d expect from a working class band. “Other Ones” talks about the importance of teaching your children to defend what’s right. “The Comeback Zone” is a story of redemption for a former soldier. “Angels Calling” might be the catchiest song on an album crammed with catchy songs. It’s one of a few songs that successfully uses a bit of organ. “These Ain’t the Old Days” is about remembering lost loved ones, but also the futility of living in the past.

“Working Class Heroes” is a classic pro union, blue collar anthem. “The Round Up” is a pro immigration song that doubles as a rallying cry. It packs a significant emotional punch. “Lest We Forget” honors a fallen fireman. (McColgan continues to work as a dispatcher for the Boston fire department.) “Never Above You, Never Below You” might be the song that most recalls vintage Dropkick Murphys. Nine of the eleven songs on Stand For Something are exactly what you’d expect from a gracefully aging street punk band.

The two outliers deserve some attention too. “Mary On Believer Street” sounds like, well, it sounds like Styx. McColgan goes up and gets the high notes like a young Tommy Shaw. (It's not wimpy like a Dennis DeYoung ballad.) Maybe a bit surprisingly, the song works. Album closer “Torn and Frayed” sounds like, well, it sounds like Southern rock. The piano line could have been an alternative take from “Sweet Home Alabama”. Even more surprisingly, this one works too.

Although Street Dogs tread familiar lyrical ground, it never gets cliche’. Their passion shines through, even in the familiar topics. The slightly mellowing music still has good focus and drive. The aggression might not quite be there, but every note feels right. Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing doesn't have the immediate, almost physical impact of Do Or Die, but it might have a greater depth. It requires a couple extra spins to absorb, but it's unquestionably worth the effort.