The Meanest Of Times Review

artist: Dropkick Murphys date: 07/31/2008 category: compact discs
Dropkick Murphys: The Meanest Of Times
Release Date: Sept 18, 2007
Label: Born & Bred Records
Genres: Celtic Punk
Number Of Tracks: 15
The Celtic punk rockers show they are masters of storytelling on their 6th release.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 9.5
 Overall Impression: 9
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reviews (4) 34 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.7
The Meanest Of Times Reviewed by: UG Team, on september 28, 2007
4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: There is no shortage of Celtic pride on the Dropkick Murphys' latest release The Meanest Of Times, which calls upon the band's usual blend of bagpipes, guitars, and elaborate storytelling with a punk twist. And after getting a huge dose of publicity for their featured song in The Departed, the Dropkick Murphys should likely see a huge surge in popularity with their 6th release. If you were a fan of the song used in the film (I'm Shipping Up To Boston), then you can expect to be highly satisfied by nearly every minute of The Meanest Of Time. The bulk of the material is more than just your usual punk rock and often leans toward the Celtic influence more than anything. So when they add guest appearances by other Irish music veterans as The Pogues and The Dubliners, you pretty much crave St. Patrick's Day. The Meanest Of Times marks the band's first independent release on Born & Bred Records, and the change seems to have sat well with them. On the 15-track CD, there is rarely a dull one in the bunch. At times they might veer toward a more traditional punk sound in songs like Surrender, and while that's not a bad thing, the band is at it's creative peak when the bagpipes or mandolin come to the forefront. Luckily, you get plenty of the Celtic touch on the record, both musically and lyrically. (F)lannigan's Ball is the most memorable track for many, in that it sounds like it could be sung at any Irish pub by a group of crusty, yet loveable individuals. One of the first voices you hear is Spider Stacy of The Pogues, who truly seems like he's from another time and place. The grittiness in his voice starts out the tune perfectly, while the bagpipes (played perfectly by Scruffy Wallace) and guitar add that extra something to the mood. You even hear what sounds like a banjo midway through, and that earthy instrumentation adds the perfect touch to the tale being told in (F)lannigan's Ball. The Dropkick Murphys aren't getting soft on us, however. Tomorrow's Industry feels like it could inspire revolution with Al Barr's gritty vocals and the overall anthem-like sound to it. Never Forget inspires the same sort of mentality and it's the kind of song that should absolutely be a sing-along in some seedy bar. There's quite a different approach to the socially or politically charged songs, but the aggression delivered in those songs is equally effective. // 8

Lyrics: It's impossible to get bored by the lyrics on The Meanest Of Times. Besides the impressive command that Al Barr and Ken Casey have whenever they sing, many of the songs truly feel like stories that keep you engaged until the end. (F)lannigan's Ball is probably the most obvious example, with a descriptive storyline revolving around an elaborate party that reaches a peak as well as a decline. But Famous For Nothing makes just as big of an impression, discussing everything from the bells of St. Mary to the familiar topic of alcohol all in the course of a few lines. If you were raised an Irish Catholic (or any Irish roots for that matter), it's impossible not to feel some sort of camaraderie. // 9

Overall Impression: The Dropkick Murphys prove they are a multifaceted band with The Meanest Of Times, not hesitating to explore a slower melody or even the topic of departed friends (God Willing). The band gets bonus points for it's creative spin on a Civil War melody with Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya." Flogging Molly still may be the reigning Celtic punk band of the land, but the Dropkick Murphys have proven themselves to be the next in line for the throne. All of the tracks, which are usually brief and to the point, rarely get redundant or lag in energy. Even if I'm Shipping Up To Boston would not have had a prime spot in The Departed, I would still predict great things for The Dropkick Murphys. // 9

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overall: 8
The Meanest Of Times Reviewed by: bernie93, on october 22, 2007
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: When you first play the CD the first song (Famous For Nothing) comes on fast and leaves a good impression with a stunning harmony at the end. The album then continues to mix irish folk and punk together well as the Dropkick Murphys have been able to do so many times. However I found that in about the 2nd quarter of the album the songs tend to sound not so different. The do make up for this with Flannigan's Ball, a pretty much awesome, irish folk song transformed into punk and with Jonny, I hardly knew ya (which is also a traditional irish folk song transformed). I found the last song a bit of a bore, but by the end of the album I was already pleased with the other songs that were very pleasant to listen to. // 7

Lyrics: One thing I find with the dropkick murphys is that though some songs of their's may not be my favourite. Their lyrics are somewhat spectacular. In Famous For Nothing they were able to tell a story of their childhood in a brilliant musical piece. Alex Barr is probably not the best singer in the world, but he does suit this type of music, and the extra singers found in a few of the songs are a great asset to some of the songs. // 9

Overall Impression: This album is up there in my list of 'favourite present punk album' but I do also think there is a bad side to this album, like I said, I think that some of the songs tend to sound the same during the 2nd quarter of the album. But overall I think this album is worth buying, I think even if you only knew 'I'm Shipping Up To Boston' you'd like this album (although I would recommend you to buy other of their albums first). // 8

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overall: 10
The Meanest Of Times Reviewed by: SehestedtSM, on june 19, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Dropkick Murphys have been around since '96 and this is their latest album. When I first listened to it I was pretty much blown away (this was one of the first of their albums I've listened to) by the 3rd song the CD The State of Massachusetts which is about drugs and the effects it has on families. What was unique about it was that one of the lead insruments was a banjo! Not what I expected from an Irish Punk band, but it sounded GOOD (plus I hate bluegrass which has banjos in it), fast and not at all what I expected it to sound like in music. // 10

Lyrics: Their lyrics were just as good if not better than their previous albums and it fits real well with the style of music played throughout the album. The vocals in this album were very good and on the song F'lannigan's Ball they had a guest singer from The Pogues which fit in perfectly. // 10

Overall Impression: The Dropkick Murphys definitely are in my Top Five favorites (and I listen to a lot of music) and have a unique style range on this CD from softer songs such as Forever 2007 to heavy punk songs such as Flannigans Ball and State of Massachusetts. If this CD was lost or stolen I would definitely buy at least one more copy (incase it was lost or stolen again) and that is saying a lot 'cause I am a very cheap person! // 10

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overall: 9.3
The Meanest Of Times Reviewed by: busway27, on july 31, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Dropkick Murphys made what I had already thought good, even better. Since I was a kid I've always loved Celtic folk, Dropkick Murphys found a way to make it perfect. On their other albums, they have done traditional Irish folk, and songs that relate to actual problems, and this album is no exception. They do their folk with "Lannigan's Ball" and "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya", and they don't fail to please. Dropkick Murphys have always been masters of their genre by taking their heritage music and translating it into some of the most intense Oi! music ever conceived. // 9

Lyrics: Dropkick Murphys have managed to take subjects as challenging as a growing divorce rate ("Walk Away" on Blackout) and put it into a song you can rock to. They have once again managed to capture attention with very fragile problems with today's society with songs like "Shattered", expressing the views one has of someone like a trusted friend or public figure, and how those views are shattered by witnessing the dark side of the person at hand. Though a subject such as a sex scandal in the Catholic church is taboo and very sensitive, they laid it out there in clear words describing a child being "abused by the parish priest" and then acquiring a gun to replenish pride. Another testament to this is "State of Massachusetts" which deals with children being taken away from negligent and abusive parents. These lyrics are very potent and get the point across without skipping a beat. // 10

Overall Impression: To tell the truth, this is one of their best albums. The first album I ever heard by them was "The Warrior's Code", and even though it is so praised, I was not a huge fan. To me, this album is third to Blackout and then Sing Loud, Sing Proud. I loved every song except for "Fairmount Hill" which is not necessarily a bad song, but it was a little to quiet for me. This album was very well done in that it sticks to classic Murphys by keeping a fast pace all the while maintaining steady singing and, of course, bagpipes. // 9

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