The Real McKenzies - 10,000 Shots (Cover Artwork)

The Real McKenzies

10,000 Shots (2005)

Fat Wreck Chords

The Real McKenzies are a group of Scottish drunks who live in Canada. They play music that is as much Bad Religion and Social Distortion as it is traditional highland fare, and they wear kilts when they grace a stage. As strange as these combinations may seem, the McKenzies know how to rock.

On 10,000 Shots, the band's Fat debut, they stumble, slur, and stomp their way through a batch of sometimes sentimental, sometimes fun, and always rocking songs. As mentioned above, the more mid-tempo numbers recall Social Distortion's working class tone, while the faster-paced tracks and fiery lead guitar work sound like Bad Religion. What gives the McKenzies their own sound however is their Scottish roots. This is most obvious in the use of bagpipes and a snotty Scottish vocal delivery, but also comes through in the melodies and lyrics (some of which are traditional) that beg to be sung along to with a drink in your hand.

By this point (their third full-length) the McKenzies have a well-honed sound and are able to keep things a bit more interesting than other bands that incorporate traditional elements. "Best Day Until Tomorrow" could pass for a song by the Explosion as it rocks completely sans bagpipe, while "Pour Decisions" offers criss-crossing bagpipe and guitar leads and what may be the best melody on the album, and songs like "Bugger Off" and the title track are simple but highly effective punk rock songs with a bit of acoustic guitar thrown in. Even the album's instrumental, "The Ale Is Dear," keeps things fresh thanks to some great bass work that runs around underneath the dominant bagpipes.

Still, the Mckenzies aren't always on their A game here. "I Hate My Band" might have some killer classic rock licks, but the weak lyrics and ho-down bass line make it a little hard to take seriously, while "13" seems to dabble in a bit too much AC/DC style rock and includes a screamy wah solo that just sounds out of place.

As might be expected, combining traditional Scottish music and punk rock leads to a good time. Both genres have a tradition for crafting singalongs and 10,000 Shots doesn't disappoint with its drunken anthems.