Urchins with hearts of gold and a bottomless song supply, not unlike their pals Rancid. Philosophy: The best fights occur at hockey games; the best romances at establishments with Guinness on tap. Proud Irish louts pulling an entire career out of the Pogues’ first album, moving toward both straighter working-class melodrama and the Kingston Trio as their once bald audience expands to include every Bruins fan in Boston. So: bagpiped labor anthems as always, but this time the standouts chastise a deadbeat dad, catalog shitfaced pickup-line lies, and pit a spurned barfly against an older and wiser barmaid. Author of the timely, eye-blackening title track: Woody Guthrie.
Now and Then
Six different songs; three done twice. Four live in 1980 before these Philly unknowns learned their instruments; four studio in 2002; one goose-stepping live 2003 cover of Mel Brooks’s “Springtime for Hitler,” dedicated to the U.S. government. (“It’s good we have a left-wing audience.”) “(At the) Hot Club” stays true to the Orlons’ safe South Street shlock’n’stroll tradition; “Wasn’t Born to Work” is the labor anthem. Between, over a Link Wray vamp building into feedback and saxblurt, “If the Flys are Alive” creates a legend for the ages out of the half-remembered tale of an all-girl punk band that may or may not have actually existed.
The Honeymoon Is Over,” “The Death of a Rolling Stone” (which sounds more like Mitch Ryder), and the 1962 oldies-weekend prom ballad “Tonight I Want to Be Alone” suggest Tyler Keith’s girlfriend might wanna consider her options. “Adult High” has musicians hanging onto 16 as long as they can; “Sweet Bitch” ‘s sweet swish traces hot-child-in-the-city titties back to Marc Bolan; the three-guitared Mississippi band’s theme song steals riffs from Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps.” But Tyler says even more about being a preacher’s kid in the even wilder “Be Sure Your Sins (Will Find You Out)”—recommended to Chief Justice Ray Moore of Alabama.