The Real McKenzies - Shine Not Burn (Cover Artwork)

The Real McKenzies

Shine Not Burn (2010)

Fat Wreck Chords

In the long-standing tradition of kilted punk rock, the Real McKenzies have been bringing their drunken Scottish flavor since 1994, long before the Irish likes of Flogging Molly (1997) and Dropkick Murphys (1996) hit the scene (for the record). Sure, they're actually from Vancouver, British Columbia--not Scotland--but they wear kilts, sings songs about partying and drinking, are lined with tattoos and show an affinity for Scotch whisky, so that's a moot point.

The Scottish punkers are about due for a new album, following 2008's Off the Leash release, but the band seems to be buying a little time with Fat Wreck Chords by going the live album route. Luckily, the Real McKenzies mix it up a bit, providing songs recorded from three acoustic sets recorded Aug. 17, 18 and 19, 2009, at Wild At Heart in Berlin-Kreuzberg, with traditional instrumentation like mandolins, penny whistles and bagpipes.

It's a robust track list reaching all the way back to the band's first two releases with Sudden Death Records, right through the latest material with Fat. For those unfamiliar with the venue, these tracks were recorded in a pub-like setting, with the crowd noise and some of the stage banter left in. As with many live efforts, these on-stage quips will become annoyingly familiar after a few listens, but that's the nature of a live album.

While the acoustic recording leaves the live album feeling a little (for lack of a better word) empty at times, it's generally a solid recording. It sounds almost like a bootleg of a small show, if the bootlegger had respectable recording equipment and decent production skills. It sounds like a Real McKenzies show, minus much of the energy of actually being in the crowd. It's good, but not great in terms of live recording. Still, longtime fans should enjoy the traditional instrumentation of the tracks, and the strong track list serves as a solid introduction to the band for new fans.