Dropkick MurphysThe Meanest of Times(Born & Bred Records)7.97937
Goes well with: Bouncing Souls, Flogging Molly, Pennywise
If you weren't a loyal follower of the Boston-to-the-teeth septet Dropkick Murphys in the '90s, you weren't missing much. Their early sound—born from the post-hardcore vacuum—was raw, jackhammer-fast and more interested in carving out punk cred than serving traditional Irish folk music with any real depth. More in line with working-class, post-punk outfits like Fugazi, Rancid and even South Bay thrashers Pennywise, the DKMs have broadened their sound, if ever so slightly. The arrangements on their sixth studio effort, The Meanest of Times, are still amphetamine 'n' stout tempos—with little room between double-time backbeats and anthemic, gruff shout-along choruses. But folk-laced ornamentation woven throughout does their heritage subtle homage with virtuosity and verve. They are still no instrumental match for Irish-punk forerunners like L.A.'s Flogging Molly, but they soars on their own tattered laurels. Highlights include “God Willing,” the drug-addled “The State of Massachusetts” and the not quite agit-prop but poignant anti-war tune “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya.”—Will K. Shilling
Various ArtistsGoin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino(Vanguard)8.39712
Goes well with: Other compilations where big stars do good things.
The double-disc tribute to Fats Domino is about restoration. Proceeds from Goin' Home will revitalize Domino's New Orleans neighborhood and benefit Tipitina's Foundation, a nonprofit that supports music education in New Orleans schools. Souls singers, folk troubadours, rock gods, jazz sweethearts—anyone can groove to Fats, and they do on this ambitious offering. Lenny Kravitz hot-handles the classic “Whole Lotta Lovin',” and he excites more than the ears when he improvises, “I gotta whole lot of uh-uh to do.” The women who do Fats best have gravel in their throats, namely Lucinda Williams and Bonnie Raitt. Ben Harper could and should front a ska band; any woman would want to “be his queen tonight” with The Skatalites backing him up. New recordings by Elton John, Norah Jones, Corrine Bailey Rae, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson and others flesh out the respectable, and purposeful, homage.—Jessica Cortez
COMING TO TOWNThe Pipettes We Are The Pipettes (Memphis Industries Ltd.)It's like The Go-Go's all over again, albeit with British vocals tempered with a sense of sour irony that's become the go-to communication tactic of our age. The Pipettes play at House of Blues on Friday, Oct. 26.
White RabbitsFort Nightly (Say Hey)The comparisons of White Rabbits to fellow NYC darlings The Walkmen are warranted and a compliment—bloozy, peppy white-man indie-rock, the sort that gets off on raw singalongs and handclap choruses. White Rabbits play at Beauty Bar on Friday, Oct. 26.
ChevelleVena Sera (Epic)Perfect for pumping your rock-fist aggressively in the air, confident that the ample product will keep your edgy hairstyle in place. This just plain sucks. Late note: Chevelle's Oct. 24 show at Soma has been canceled.
Georgie JamesPlaces (self-released)The debut for the new project from John Davis (ex-Q and Not U) and Laura Berhenn is far from perfect, but the male-female vocals on the lounge-pop single “Need Your Needs” strike a fascinating balance between The Sea and Cake and Duncan Sheik. Georgie James plays at The Casbah on Tuesday, Oct. 30.—Troy Johnson