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The shouted gang vocals that open Signed and Sealed in Blood are a statement of purpose for Dropkick Murphys: “The boys are back and they’re lookin’ for trouble.”

Eight studio albums in, the band’s burly, raucous Irish punk is as fun as ever. Working again with producer Ted Hutt, Dropkick Murphys have mastered the balance between charging-ahead punk and those Celtic adornments of banjo, mandolin, whistle, accordion and bagpipes.

“Jimmy Collins’ Wake” is a more traditional, acoustic song, celebrating another bit of Boston heritage: baseball. With lyrics written by Rich Johnson, curator of the Boston Sports Museum, it’s a rousing celebration of a long-gone era and local hero Collins, the Hall of Famer who was the winning manager of the first World Series.

Next is “The Season’s Upon Us,” which recounts the dysfunctional, brandy-and-egg-nog-fueled mayhem of some families: “If you think yours is crazy, well you should see mine.” With twits, whack jobs, losers and those who delight in giving gift-wrapped boxes of shit, the band sings of a colorful sort of misery: “With family like this I would have to confess I’d be better off lonely, distraught and depressed.”

After 17 years, Dropkick Murphys haven’t slowed a bit, and this latest batch of carefree punk songs keeps the good times going strong.

Published April 11, 2013 in the Tucson Weekly.

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Eric Swedlund is a writer, photographer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. His music writing has appeared regularly in the Tucson Weekly, Phoenix New Times, East Bay Express, The Rumpus and Souciant Magazine.

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