Singer Mike McColgan quit the Dropkick Murphys just when the Irish punks were becoming a sensation. He did it for a good reason: to realize his lifelong dream of becoming a Boston firefighter. Before long, however, he realized he’d made a mistake, and the pipes were still calling him. He put the fire department on hold and re-launched the Street Dogs in 2002.
At first, the Street Dogs played respectable but nondescript punk rock, and it looked like the band would be a mere footnote for Murphys completists. But the band grew over three albums, and 2008’s State of Grace was a five-star bar-rock masterpiece that flowed from classic rock to wicked-traditional singalongs and punky ragers. Now, on the new self-titled LP, the Dogs might have overshadowed the Murphys musically.
Without sacrificing their identity, McColgan and crew have never sounded so much like his old group as they do on the new disc. They’ve added full Celtic instrumentation for tunes like “Harpo,” which, trad or no, still plays at the speed of punk. All the singer’s old favorite subject matter is still present in songs like “Up the Union.” And on 90-second outburst like “Freedom,” the Dogs have never been so hardcore. The Murphys are still a force to behold, but if you want a band whose records are as good as its live shows, do not miss the Street Dogs at the Grog. —D.X. Ferris
The Street Dogs play the Grog Shop Thursday, September 23. Doors 7 p.m., tickets $15. Flatfoot 56, Left Alone, and Continental open.
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