Album Review: Isn’t It Grand, by Dirty Old Towne

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dotAt first listen it’s easy for one to think that Dirty Old Towne is taking more than a few pages from the books of famous contemporaries such as Flogging Molly or, to a lesser degree, Dropkick Murphys. The truth is the group forges a very different niche while evoking thoughts of those bands with its sound.

Dirty Old Towne lacks the Irish fatalism of Flogging Molly or the Murphys’ pent-up aggression. They’re just not that Irish-native or that pissed. What they are is a group of men with a deep appreciation of the ability of Celtic music to brighten spirits and encourage a good time, along with the talent and intuition to bring the music together. They’re more tongue-in-cheek than their famous forebears; “Truly Compelling” puts a neat bow over the band’s real M.O. with its declaration of making music to make you want to drink more. Are they saying Irishmen drink a lot? Are they saying Bransonites drink a lot?! The answer to either is yes, and at their shows that’s exactly how they want it. “Brennan On the Moor” takes the more traditional Celtic tack while giving it a rock punch, while the title track tears through a funeral scene without any of that pesky weeping or melancholy. Let’s get straight to the shout-alongs, eh?

The band’s rock undercurrent really makes the record, and they’re not afraid to show it. “Smoke” is a straight-up rock song, complete with an eerie tone and the almost disconcerting tone of the brake disk drummer Daniel Dossey hits throughout. Ever heard a drum kit sound like a sonar beep? You will now.

The ballad “Last Call” is a fitting close to the album; it’s one of the last songs the band plays in its live show, reminding one that this is, in effect, a distillation of the band’s regular live performances. As such, it’s a very representative sampler of what Dirty Old Towne is all about and how it chooses to approach its Irish and Celtic music: with a wink to the girls, a nudge to the bartender and its instruments at full volume. Unlike most last calls, this “Last Call” is just an excuse to pick up your empty Guinness bottles and press play again.

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One Response to “Album Review: Isn’t It Grand, by Dirty Old Towne”

  1. alc Says:

    Great review. Chris – you’re welcome for the CD! 🙂

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