The Dropkick Murphys river danced their way into America’s hearts when their song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” was featured in the mobster film, The Departed. Fifteen years hence, they continue infusing Celtic rhythms into American punk to create a genuinely Irish American rabble-rousing experience. Turn Up That Dial is their tenth studio album, and the Dropkick Murphys have kept all of their gusto along the way.
When punk bands mature, they often face a dilemma. The anger that fueled their performances ebbs away with age, and if they are successful enough to be still playing, then it’s hard to keep protesting against the system they have been rallying against. To solve this concern, the Dropkick Murphys have grounded themselves in the Irish American nostalgia that seeps from the very bricks of Boston. Just like the appeal of Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone can be Irish for a day, and a once-in-a-while Dropkick Murphys album scratches that itch.
The Irish ethos is to be bloody but unbowed. From the Vikings to the British, Ireland has a history of being conquered. A roughhouse culture emerged of major and minor rabble-rousers that is determined to lash out. No song epitomizes this more than “Middle Finger.” As a band of brothers, they sing, “So if you looked at my life, if you took a little peek/ You’d say, ‘Good Lord, let it go, man, just turn the other cheek’/ I don’t know how to let it go, I just don’t know how to behave/ I was born with this affliction, and I’ll take it to the grave.” Despite a lifetime of diving into lessons headfirst, the Irish have an affinity for fighting it out from down in the dirt.
The Dropkick Murphys know what they excel at and play to it. They are not trying to push the boundaries of music with an experimental style of sound mixing or politically poignant lyrics. Turn Up That Dial reminisces on local bar heroes who just got arrested after a stabbing, calling your buddy an M.F. on their birthday, and the love of friends as close as family. The Dropkick Murphys should be listened to amongst a group of lads and ladies as thick as thieves. It is about the good times of being down on your luck more by choice than by circumstance. Album after album, the Dropkick Murphys tap into the Irish vein coursing across America and a timeless nostalgia for culture across the sea.