What the world needs is more Dropkick Murphys, or perhaps something just different enough to spawn a new sub-subgenre. Unlike Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies hail from Vancouver and parlay their Scottish heritage into a Celtic-fused melodic punk. Off the Leash is their fourth full-length release and second on Fat Wreck.
If you can make it past the terrible cover art, the album starts off with "Chip," a solid song in the vein of the above mentioned band. "The Lads Who Fought and Won" sounds like your standard NOFX song and "The Ballad of Greyfriars Bobby" afterward sounds about the same, but with a little bit of twang. I'm still trying to decide if "My Mangy Mound" is catchy in a good way, or if it's empty pop drivel.
Beyond the accent, The Real McKenzies don't really bring anything new to the table. At their better moments, they remind of other sing-along Celtic-punk, with bagpipes in place of mandolins. At their worst, they sound like the stale mid-90s melodic punk that their label is oft-associated with. If you define your tastes by your affinity for Fat Wreck, the odds are good that you'll like this one; likewise for diehard fans of the Dropkick Murphys ilk.
The band seems to have a penchant for booze, as well as a curious affinity for placing topless pictures of themselves in their liner notes.
For the most part, the band isn't bad; they're just rather generic. A few tracks stand out on the record, but more of them blend together. Singer Dirty Kurt Robertson's monotone delivery does nothing to differentiate the songs. Instead, the band relies on the bagpipe novelty, utilizing it primarily as a bridge between verses. When the bagpipes are not in use, you're left with melodic, poppy punk that doesn't separate itself its peers. They try to mix things up, with the countrified "The Maple Trees Remember" and the ballad "Guy on Stage," but neither of those tracks is particularly interesting either. The Real McKenzies strike me as a band that will catch your attention on a compilation, but bore you when it comes time for the full-length.
6.0 / 10
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