Beginning in 1997, Boston's Dropkick Murphys marshaled the shaven hordes in a novel but logical direction: toward the rowdy Irish folk revivalism of the Pogues. Drunken, volatile, shambolic Shane MacGowan had long been a skinhead avatar, and Dropkick Murphys vocalist Al Barr has obviously swiped a trick or two from MacGowan. Sometimes the Dropkicks just pile some bagpipes onto straightforward punk rock; other times they turn down the amps and fully indulge their Hibernian fixation. But the Dropkick Murphys' Ireland is a world away from the corny mysticism of, say, Riverdance -- it is a rough-and-tumble pubscape of broken teeth and unbroken spirits. Blackout, their new album, takes its title from a Woody Guthrie lyric that the band set to music (á la Billy Bragg & Wilco). It's a surprisingly appropriate move for the Dropkicks, whose blustery, working-class punk-folk has already spawned imitators like Flogging Molly. This trend isn't going away; count on seeing more bald kids with flat caps and shamrock tattoos in the near future.
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