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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Street Dogs
Back to the World
Brass Tacks Records

Rating: 6/10 ?

January 29, 2005
Punk rock has been through many changes since the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones started things off over 30 years ago. The result of each new set of interpretations to the conventional punk sound has meant many derivative 'punk' musics such as new wave, pop-punk, ska-punk and even emo. Over all, a critical voice would argue that several of these genres have little to offer in terms of creativity and quality.

The beauty of music criticism is that as time moves forward, blanket ideas and attitudes can be thrown out the window and old evaluations ousted to make way for new analysis with valuable hindsight. To speak more specifically, pop-punk and 90s punk revival - led by the likes of Green Day, the Offspring, Bad Religion, and others - were first viewed as the next great pop genre upon their early move into the mainstream. Then came stale pop-punk album ideas (Offspring's Ixnay on the Hombre, Green Day's Insomniac, Bad Religion's No Substance), as well as new areas of general popularity such as Nu metal, emo and hip hop - and just like that, the public opinion had moved on.

More recently, the critical slate has been wiped clean again, and a new gleam added by not only Green Day's acclaimed release American Idiot, but a bevy of small-time albums from bands and musicians that were always around, only sliding in under the mainstream radar.

Back to the World is an album that can be seen as benefiting from a fresh attitude towards pop-punk. Street Dogs is composed of ex-Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones players, and acts as the aggregate outlet for these musicians. Like both of these pre-existing feeder bands, Street Dogs play the 3-chord punk rock ballad to perfection.

Street Dogs also show a diversity in style that few other pop-punk acts do in tracks such as "Tale of Mass Deception," "Drink Tonight," "Stagger," and "Unions and the Law."

"Tale of Mass Deception" and "Unions and the Law" are both songs that bring out the band's Boston punk/Irish influence. Lead man Mike McColgan draws out a brief Irish singing style and guides the regular band instrumentation-plus accordion and acoustic guitar - through a folksy pub swing (complete with drinking song-chorus singing). During the outro, "Unions and the Law," the Irish feel is pronounced even further with the addition of shakers, mandolin and acoustic guitar. "Drink Tonight" is like an Irish pub song on speed, a one-minute punk rock drag race and "Stagger" has a reggae intro.

Much of the rest of Back to the World is a celebration of pop-punk and its simplistic, yet upbeat nature. Most of the tracks feature at least one of the following requirements: a guy shouting "1-2-3-4" to start the song, palm muted guitars, only three chords, or two note bridge and intro melodies. There is nothing that Street Dogs do throughout this album that is going to lead you to stop dead in your tracks, do a double take and rewind the song. Then again, no one's expecting a new Neil Peart or Chet Atkins. One might get the sense of familiarity to early Green Day (say Kerplunk era) but that's as far as overt similarities will probably go.

To further break the suspense, Back to the World will not be nominated for any huge nationally-publicized awards. The album is fun, to the point and boasts it own regionalized attitude; a pop-punk rock album in all respects.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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