Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sounds: New Dropkick Murphys

It's harder then you think to write a little review of a new album from a band that not only you love, but everyone and their cousin already knows you love. People roll their eyes, skip to the next post. We get it. You love them. No surprise. Next.

I have written many words about the Dropkick Murphys on this blog, usually after seeing them live. This week they released their newest and 8th studio album,  Signed and Sealed in Blood. With new music, like any type of love, there is love at first sight (or listen) and love that takes a while to grow on you. That second point has proven true with even DKM albums. When I heard the first couple of chords of the first song on this new album, "The Boys Are Back," I knew this was love at first sight. The album, although completely new to me, felt so warmly familiar, like it has always been part of my music vocabulary.

Like most of their other albums there are plenty of sing-a-longs, but with this album there is also, at least for me,  this sense and feeling of nostalgia. I think a lot of this has to do with being an Irish influenced band, which Dropkick Murphys are usually referred to as such. So much of Irish history and culture is through music and this continuing ballad we sing of ourselves. I claim heritage from the Emerald Isle (County Derry represent!) , so Irish music is in my blood and when I hear it, it always awakes some of that old blood. And within this music you will always, always, find themes of the past and of family--folklore or reality. . . .and maybe whiskey.  But you know, the Irish.  Woven into jigs and in the shadow of bagpipes is the idea that holding onto these things is not only a way to remember the past, but also a way to endure the present. Remember who you are. 

This feeling of nostalgia plays very much into some of my favorite songs on the album. Number one on that list is the song, "My Hero." My liking of this song is a surprise to no one. It is about advice you get from your father. Every time I write about my dad and his still pretty recent passing on this blog I pause and have a little bit of internal conflict.  Sometimes I feel I talk about and refer to him too much. This blog is very public and I have to consider the readers and knowing that death is uncomfortable to some, and maybe I have become too repetitive and mopey about it all. But there is another side of me that is struggling so much to hold on to my dad. There is a fear that I am just going to forget it all, forget about him.  I figure that I if I keep talking about him, I can hold to him a little longer and putting him and his stories down in black and white makes his legacy more tangible and permanent. This song, in small song way, helps me hold to his memory a little bit more,  echoing many of the same sentiments that he wisely told me through the years: work hard, hold your head up high, it will all be OK.

Another favorite song, for the which the video below is for, is "Rose Tattoo". And there is no mystery with the tittle, it is about tattoos. I don't have any and probably won't ever get any tattoos, but I do understand why people get/have them. I have many friends that have quite a few tattoos and I have had the privilege to be there as many of them were inked. This song takes me back to all those times.  There are many reasons why people get tattoos, but I think the idea of having a memory so dear to you that you want to make it part of your body and being is beautiful. Agree or disagree with me on that point, but the this song, at least in my ears, is fundamentally about how we make memories and the special people and places in our lives a part of ourselves. We all are made up everything that has become before us and everything we experience, some are just more visual about it. I also can't wait to hear this song live and see and feel the crowd explode into a raucous jig for the last minute of the song.

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