Dropkick Murphys - Sing Loud, Sing Proud (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dropkick Murphys

Sing Loud, Sing Proud (2001)


I'll never understand people who lament about bands developing their sound. If anything, the Dropkick Murphys can't be accused of letting their songwriting become stale and repetitive. Yes, their folk influences are more pronounced than ever before, but this review would certainly be a negative one if the Murphys had been rehashing their successful debut album over and over. Thankfully, that's not the case…

There are a few line-up changes this time around. While Al Barr replaced Mike McColgan on 1999's "The Gang's All Here," he sounds much more comfortable with the band's sound here. A pair of guitarists, Mark Orrell and James Lynch, have succeeded founding member Rick Barton. The band also incorporated full time folk instrumentalists Spicy McHaggis (bagpipes) and Ryan Foltz (mandolin, tin whistle, dulcimer). Rancid's Lars Frederiksen, who produced the band's first two albums, has stepped down and allowed bassist Ken Casey to take over. Casey's production is very clean, which is necessary capturing more than the typical guitar-bass-drum sound.

Musically the album blends the sounds of "Do or Die" and "The Gang's All Here." The band covers a fair amount of folk and pub songs, none of which seem out of place with the band's own material. These include Billy Bragg's class-conscious "Which Side Are You On?" and traditional pub stalwarts "The Rocky Road to Dublin" and "The Wild Rover." The band also gives a spit-shine to a few older B-sides such as "The Legend of Finn MacCumhail" and "Caps and Bottles." Shane MacGowan, Pogues frontman and an obvious source of inspiration for the band, lends his slurred vocals to "Good Rats." MacGowan's half of the duet is unfortunately rather monotone and lackluster. Cock Sparrer's Colin McFaull lends a frantic verse to "The Fortunes of War," which protests the injustice following much publicized murder of Brian Deneke.

The Murphy's skill is in blending their folk influences into their street punk sound, without losing the attitude and energy of the later. This separates the band from acts with similar setups like Flogging Molly. There's rarely a moment when a folk instrument seems forced or out of place. Overall a strong release and definitely something to check out.