Album Review

When singer Mike McColgan left the Dropkick Murphys in 1998 to accomplish his life-long dream of becoming a firefighter, it seemed like the perfect story for a band who are known for songs dedicated to the working man. However, after only a few years, McColgan apparently realised his true aspiration and left the fire department to pursue his other passion music. Having been replaced in the Murphys by Al Barr, McColgan went on to form his own band called Street Dogs in 2002. Eight years later, they are still here and about to release their eponymous fifth album, which will surely prove to be a treat for fans of Street Dogs and Dropkick Murphys alike.

As the album begins, with the sounds of bagpipes and gunshots, it is already obvious that McColgan has never strayed too far from the style of his former band. As with Dropkick Murphys, fans can always be sure of what they are going to get when a new release from Street Dogs hits the shelves and, here, there is no less of the energetic, feel-good songs that people will already be used to.

However, unlike some of the previous Street Dogs offerings, which had less of the Guinness-fuelled Celtic punk and more of a straightforward punk rock sound, this self-titled album seems closer in resemblance to bands like the aforementioned Murphys and Flogging Molly. The record is filled with the kind of riotous drinking anthems that made albums like 'The Gang's All Here', 'The Warrior's Code' and the McColgan-era 'Do or Die' so appealing.

While songs like 'Rattle and Roll', 'Harpo' and 'Up the Union' prove the above with the same sort of lively, accordion-filled folk-punk that rocks most sawdust-covered Irish pubs every night, other tracks such as 'Portland' and 'In Stereo' sound more like Green Day-esque power pop-punk with their punchy and infectious guitar riffs.

Elsewhere, the album mixes a number of other genres, including tuneful acoustic folk music and even some breakneck-speed thrash/hardcore for the more enthusiastic punker. One of the album's defining tracks is a song called 'Punk Rock and Roll', which includes a lyric from McColgan that suitably sums up the record: "We all need a little punk rock and roll/The kind that makes you want to break some bones."

This is a pretty awesome album from Mike McColgan and co, which nicely rounds up a variety of punk-influenced rock music. Anyone who is familiar with any of the band's previous releases, or any of the Dropkick Murphys' music, should be pleasantly surprised with the results. It definitely seems that McColgan has finally settled in the right place for himself, musically, and Street Dogs will almost certainly continue to gather a loyal following from their ongoing efforts. Although they may never reach the glorious heights of McColgan's former band, like the Murphys, they're not bitter.