Thursday, March 29, 2012

Album Review: Westwinds

Title:  Westwinds (Fat Wreck Chords, Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, AllMusic)
Artist:  The Real McKenzies (Official, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube,, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

When most people hear the term Celtic punk they probably think of the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly.  While those two bands are the most well known in the genre, they certainly aren’t the only ones, or the ones who have been around the longest.  The genre itself can be traced back to The Pogues in the early 1980s, but did you realize that The Real McKenzies having been playing their own Scottish infused brand of Celtic punk since 1992?   Now in their 20th year as a band, The Real McKenzies have breathed new life into Celtic punk with their album Westwinds

What makes Westwinds work so well is that it doesn’t sound like shtick or a gimmick.  The Real McKenzies have found a great balance between the Celtic elements and the punk elements, never once sounding forced.  One of the problems with the Dropkick Murphys last album was that it often sounded like shtick, like they wanted to make sure that each song had a tin whistle, bagpipe, mandolin, or banjo part in it (much to the detriment of the songs).  The Real McKenzies don’t have that problem.  Each instrument is only used when needed to improve the song and that is incredibly refreshing.  (Side note:  I know that I have been exceptionally critical of the Dropkick Murphys’ last album, but they aren’t the only ones who have fallen pray to this situation.  I’ve thought that every Flogging Molly record after the first song on Within a Mile of Home has felt forced and like shtick.) 

For longtime fans of The Real McKenzies, Westwinds is sure to please.  For those new to the band, this is a great place to start.  If you are a fan of The Pogues, The Tossers, Flogging Molly, or the Dropkick Murphys, well you probably already know about The Real McKenzies unless you’re one of those people who only knows “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” or only listens to this music on St. Patrick’s Day, but if not then I highly suggest checking out Westwinds.


Otter Limits said...

People that only listen to Irish music or Celtic punk music on St Patricks Day irritate the heck out of me.

Then again, for that matter, St Patricks Day in general kind of irritates me.

Dave said...

And thanks to you, St. Patrick's Day now kind of irritates me as well. And I'm not even Irish.

mario said...

Westwinds is fuckin tough!!! I'm not big on all the other irish bands but the mckenzies go hard!

Jack said...

Too harsh on Flogging Molly there too. In fact, their recent albums such as 'Speed of Darkness' have sought to differentiate their sound, and not confine themselves to the formulaic, exaggeratedly Irish celtic genre - as you mentioned DKM have arguably done.