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Flogging Molly soaks punk rock in Guinness

Marty Schroeder | Thursday, September 23, 2004

Flogging Molly’s Irish-inflected punk returns on its third album, “Within a Mile of Home” off of Side One Dummy Records. This band formed in 1997 when Dave King met six other people who shared his love for Ireland, punk rock and Guinness. Flogging Molly debuted with “Swagger,” taking the punk world by storm with its fast guitars and drums melded to Irish violins, tin whistles, mandolins and an accordion. “Within a Mile of Home” maintains the Irish influences and the hard rocking from past albums, however this album has slowed down from its last release “Drunken Lullabies.””Within a Mile of Home” begins with the raucous song “Screaming at the Wailing Wall.” This song kicks into high gear with a fast mandolin and violin. Front man and primary songwriter, King also brings some political fervor to the table and he uses his thick brogue to cry, “I’ll liberate your peoples’ fate spoke the Burnin’ Bush but the song of beasts growl with oil soaked teeth.” The political commentary on the current administration seems somewhat out of place as the band has not brought any specific attacks on a particular political group in the past. King’s disillusionment with the Catholic Church was apparent on its second album but this is the first time a commentary on American politics has been part of Flogging Molly. However, this song is followed with “The Seven Deadly Sins,” which keeps the tempo high and is very reminiscent of the first Flogging Molly album “Swagger.” It is a hearty drinking song that simply makes you want to get up and dance. The lyrics are simple and speak of the difficulties of life while maintaining the Irish dolefulness that permeates all the music of this band.”Factory Girls” follows up these two and this is where King and the rest of the band begin to go in a different direction than in years past. This song slows the tempo down and reminds one more of traditional Irish music than punk rock. King croons on this one about factory girls taking leisure after work, “Singin’ in the streets drinkin’ their coca-colas.” This song provides a vein on the third album with a theme that is present in almost all Flogging Molly songs. Being from one of history’s most repressed countries, King has a special place in his heart for repressed peoples, and “Factory Girls” gives us a glimpse of the simple joys yet hard work ethic of the thousands of Irish that stayed in Ireland and sailed for America. This song also features vocalist Lucinda Williams who adds a very nice complement to King and Bridget Regan’s tin whistle.”To Youth (My Sweet Roisin Dubh)” and “The Light of a Fading Star” provide some fast, energetic anthems about generations passing on the torch. “Tobacco Island” comments on the events of 1659 when Charles II of England forced many Irish from their homes – reminding us that even though King has come to America, he has not forgotten where he is from. Bassist Nathan Maxwell provides the lyrics and a lead vocal growl to the hard-edged “Queen Anne’s Revenge.” The rest of the album follows these with some good Irish fun and a smattering of political commentary thrown in for good measure.If you are unfamiliar with this great and amazingly original band, its debut “Swagger” would be the best place to start but if you are a Flogging Molly fan then pick up this record. It does not disappoint and takes a somewhat different direction in sound if not in lyric. In a time when punk rock is in its death throes, this band is keeping the punk ethos alive with nothing but Irish ideals, guitars and Guinness.