Sound: The story of Boston-based punk rock band Street Dogs begins in 1999 when vocalist Mike McColgan has left his highly successful brainchild Dropkick Murphys to achieve his long-standing dream -- to become a member of the Boston Fire Department. But even being in this new role, he has never lost his bent for music, so in 2002 Mike along with well-known bassist Johnny Rioux, Boston legend drummer Joe Sirois and 22 years old guitarist Marcus Hollar formed Street Dogs and quickly recorded their debute album "Savin Hill" to hit the road straight after the release. Nevertheless, during their continual touring they amassed enough material that was put in base of their sophomore record -- "Back To The World."
This album is a great present for the listener of traditional, conscious punk rock music -- there are not much bands these days that use the inheritance of punk classics as-is, without "poppy" influences all over the songs. By itself "Back To The World" is a very solid record, full of energy and positive feelings. It's charged with plenty of simple but still catchy guitar riffs and rhythms as well as McColgan's more melodic singing -- as opposed to his previous distinguishing shoutings -- with a perfect foundation of bass lines and drum beats. Though with all its features, the overwhelming majority of the tracks on "Back To The World" obviously lack the musical variety -- mostly their arrangemnts are based on standard punk rock patterns with all of their simplicity -- it's still questionable whether it's bad or not. For example, "Tale Of Mass Dception" that features accordion tunes is somewhat a digression to the folk side, or seveth track "Stagger" that's a powerful punk song in its essence has a funny "wah-wah" reggae intro. The inspiring last track "Unions And The Law" performed in a soft acoustic key, which I can't call "punk song" at all... musically -- it's rather a calm ballad in the manner of american traditional rockers. Overall, with "Back To The World" you can feel that good punk rock is alive and kickin'! // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically, punk rock music always had a message for the masses (I mean true punk music!), and Street Dogs follow that rule. All the songs on the album have quite serious subjects in the basis, like government depravity, war, unemployment as well as classic drugs and alcohol themes. All Dogs' lyrics are clear and straight in face. Along with the political statements of "Tales Of Mass Deception," "White Collar Fraud" or "Back To The World" you can also find easier but still meaningful themes such as alcohol on "Stagger," "Patrick" and "Drink Tonight" -- though the latter is rather about having a good time with drinking. As I have said earlier, every song conveys its own message, so it would be better to ransack them by yourself. As to the McColgan's vocal skills -- this album might be a minor disappointment for his fans, because Mike really moved away from his habitual shouting, that's obviously a necessary part of every good punk rock record, towards clean singing. // 10
Overall Impression: For those who doubt that true punk rock still has a right to live, I would suggest to listen to "Back To The World" carefully. Street Dogs stand aside from the mainstream pop-punk acts with their artless themes and 3-chords-per-album tunes by delivering the classical in all aspects punk rock -- simple but thoughtful music with mordant and vital lyrics. Street Dogs provide a rebellious spirit throughout their music and it's definitely what we need right now. "Back To The World" will satisfy both punk grandpa's and verdant punk kids -- honestly, you can hardly find a better band in the same genre. // 8