ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES – Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea (2022)

After a couple of years of misery for Celtic-Punk fans 2022 has been something of a special year with the biggest and best the scene has to offer all releasing albums and The Real McKenzies even releasing two! 

Here Ray Ball checks out Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea out everywhere today. Packed to the gills with roaring sea shanties and bagpipe-fuelled highland anthems.

So, how to start this…I think I first stumbled on to The Real McKenzies with Clash of the Tartans. I was just getting into Celtic punk, I think Blackout and Within a Mile of Home were fresh on the record shelves. “Dropping Like Flies” and “Smokin’ Bowl” we’re staples of my 2000-something on my iPod nano.

Needless to say it was a good time to be a Celtic punk listener.

Sure, as we all know, the Pogues first combined the two genres. They hold their time and place in history. What I didn’t realize, or maybe appreciate, was the kick that came out of the Northwest in the early 90s. McKenzies formed in 1992, four years before DKM formed and not long but before “Alive Behind the Green Door” came out as a Flogging Molly live album.

I did some looking into it and dug up that a lot of the bands then and there sang in Gaelic, and put more of the punk and harsh edge into the music coming out of that part of the US and Canada.

I’ve listened to a lot of it over time but the McKenzies have always stood out to me. Paul, the rotating crew, the crazy pipes. They seem to have as much fun with it as we do. That’s important.
In “Songs of the Highland Songs of the Sea” McKenzies they bring their sound a little truer to maybe “Westwinds” than “Beer and Loathing”. Not that the latter was bad at all, it just felt a bit heavier than normal.
Don’t expect much in the way of new materiel in terms of songwriting here. From sea shanties to Robbie Burns, there’s a lot of great takes on standards to make an excellent album. Some I’ve even covered before in a punk way, and it’s different. But their take on it is different as Scottish Canadians than my Irish American.

I know Scotland the Brave and Leave her Johnny have already been released and are good indications of where the record goes. A must listen track is “Ye Jacobites by Name”, an 18th century set of lyrics set later to music and then given a do over by Paul and crew. I won’t spoil anything, you’ll hear some familiar Melodies if you go to local sessions or hear pipe bands often.

But, it’s a refreshing album I think we all need. They truly keep it up and going and there’s no objection to the bands ability to put out quality music at a rapid pace.
So row on ye bastards, and get a copy.
Buy Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea
Contact The Real McKenzies  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram
Thanks to Ray Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.
*
The Real McKenzies are on tour in Europe during January and arrive on these shores on the 23rd playing Blackpool, two nights in Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Derby and then the New Cross Inn in south London on the 28th. For the smoke keep an eye on the Facebook Event for support acts, set times and ticket news.
It was also recently announced that they have been added to the bill at Rebellion festival in Blackpool next August doing two sets – a full band set and on the the ‘Almost Acoustic’ stage. This means the good news is they will be back around again next Summer.

Tagged:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: