Celtic punk band Sir Reg released its fifth full-length studio recording late this past September. The Swedish-based (yes, the band is in fact from Sweden, though its front man is originally from Ireland) band’s album The Underdogs is everything that fans of the Celtic-rock sound have come to expect from that world. This applies both musically and lyrically throughout the course of the record’s 11-song, 33-minute body. This is obvious right from the album’s outset in its title track, which will be discussed shortly. ‘Fool (Fight Of Our Lives),’ which is the album’s lead single, is another example of what makes this record appealing for fans of the Celtic rock realm. It will be discussed a little later. ‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song’ is one more example of what makes this record well worth the listen among Celtic rock fans, and will be addressed a little later, too. Between these noted songs and the other eight works not directly discussed here, the whole of this album proves to be just as enjoyable as anything already available from Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.
Sir Reg’s latest full-length studio recording The Underdogs is a 33-minute Celtic-rock record that is certain to appeal to fans of said genre, regardless of their familiarity with the Sweden-based outfit’s catalog. It is a record that holds its own easily with anything currently available from Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly and other bands of that ilk. That is evidenced in part through the album’s opener/title track. ‘The Underdogs’ is a strong start for its namesake album in part due to its musical arrangement. The song’s arrangement features an enjoyable and well-balanced hybrid of traditional Celtic instrumentation and modern punk rock elements for a whole that is infectious and certain to find a wide-ranging appeal. The song’s lyrical content builds on the foundation formed through the song’s arrangement, making the song in whole that much more appealing.
Lyrically, the song is relatively straight forward. As the title suggests, the lyrical theme centers on a group of people from whom no one expects anything; a group that in turn is that much more determined to prove everyone wrong. As front man Brendan Sheehy sings in the song’s lead verse, “We’ve been slapped in the face/Told that we were no good/We never believed it/We fought like we should/They try and destroy you/Or make you bit small/But the spirit we have/Picks us up when we fall/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’ll follow you all of the way/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’re hoping and swearing you would stay/We’re the underdogs/Get out of our way/We’re the underdogs/We’re making you pay/We’re the underdogs and this is our game/We’re the underdogs.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “We’re coming to get you/Reclaim all that’s ours…Been kept down so long/Now it’s our time to sing… We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’ll follow you all of the way/We’ll follow you down to the black gates of hell/We’re hoping and swearing you would stay/We’re the underdogs/Get out of our way/We’re the underdogs/We’re making you pay/We’re the underdogs and this is our game/We’re the underdogs.” There is a portion of that second verse that is slightly difficult to understand without a lyrics sheet that was not provided with the record, but even without that one small section, these two verses and choruses clearly exhibit that previously noted proud defiance, which is what punk rock is all about, after all. This is a proudly defiant, fist-pumping anthem that is an ode to the downtrodden, and that will hopefully inspire those out there who themselves feel like underdogs. When it is coupled with the song’s infectious musical arrangement, which is driven largely through its bass and drum lines, the whole is a strong start to The Underdogs, and just one clear example of what makes the album in whole such a widely appealing album. It is just one of the songs featured in the album that serves to show why the LP has such a high level of appeal. ‘FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives)’ is another example of what makes the album a strong offering from the band.
‘FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives),’ like ‘The Underdogs’ is another standout addition to The Underdogs partly because of its own musical arrangement. While the arrangement is another familiar Celtic punk rock production, it can be said that it does not just rehash the arrangement presented in the album’s opener. It cannot be ignored that the mandolin (or what sounds like a mandolin) line is closely similar, but overall, the arrangements are not mirror images of one another. Keeping that in mind, the rest of the arrangement creates an identity in and of itself for this opus that once again balances the group’s Celtic and punk elements. The result of all of this is a work whose appeal is just as far-reaching as that of the album’s title track. The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out. Its lyrical theme does just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained as its musical side.
Sheehy explained in an interview about the song that it centers, lyrically, on overcoming the adversities in life that can, and so often do, work to bring us down. He said of that song that it “is about pulling yourself back from the brink, the minute you feel all hope is lost. Nothing and nobody can stand in your way when you decide to go grab your hopes and dreams, and achieve everything you believe is rightfully yours.” That statement is illustrated well as Sheehy sings, “He stands in the window/Looks down on the street/the world passed him by/the wind on his sleeve/He feels he’s forgotten/The good things, the highs/Get down from the ledge, and we’ll give them the fight of their lives/Yes, we’ve all gone insane and the rich run the world…When we all say we’re going to win/Don’t you know we don’t talk through our a****/When we get there, we’ll rip down the door.” Again, Sheehy’s pure Irish accent makes translation a bit difficult through the rest of the song without a lyrics sheet. Even with that in mind, the translation that is possible again illustrates Sheehy’s statement quite well. This is another proudly defiant song that continues the album’s central theme of what Sheehy called “The struggles of the ordinary men and women, to make to make their voice heard and their opinions count, whilst not losing their spirit and ability to enjoy the simpler things in life, like hanging out with their friends at their favorite bar on a Saturday night.” When this is considered in examining the album’s opener, it rings just as true there, too. Getting back to going out on a Saturday night to drink at a bar, Sir Reg touches on that in this record, too in the form of ‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song.’
‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song’ is, musically speaking, another work that will immediately appeal to fans of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Every measure of the song’s arrangement and every element bears a strong similarity to those bands’ more light hearted works. It is just as edgy lyrically as anything that DKM has ever crafted, too. Sheehy sings, “He said he was from Dublin towne/The fella, he was lyin’/Singin’ about some Irish girl/A love that wasn’t dyin’/Could tell a mile away…so I smacked him right across the chin of course/Sure the ladies were impressed with him/They thought he was a riot…To impersonate an Irish man…is not an honorable art…” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “Here’s a stereotypical drunken feckin’ Irish song/Stick a shamrock up your a** and drink a toast/Sing a stereotypical drunken feckin’ Irish song till the whiskey, beer and gin runs out your hole.” Little, if any more needs be referenced here. From here on out, the rest of the song is just a feel-good song that celebrates drinking with one’s friends and being with one’s friends in general. It is, in this critic’s ears, one of the album’s best moments, if not its best. When it is considered along with the positive messages and musical content in the previously discussed works, all three songs collectively paint a vivid picture of The Underdogs’ positives. When they are considered along with the rest of the songs not directly discussed here, the whole of the album’s 11 songs becomes an album that is a fun new offering from Sir Reg and a work that is certain to have a wide appeal among Celtic music fans.
Sir Reg’s fifth full-length studio recording The Underdogs is a strong new offering from the Swedish (yes, Swedish) Celtic punk outfit. That is clear through an examination of the songs noted here. Their infectious, upbeat musical arrangements will easily appeal to any fan of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Its lyrical themes, which center on the trials and tribulations of the world’s working men and women are certain to add even more appeal for audiences. This applies even in the songs not discussed here. All thing considered, the album in whole proves to be an offering that Celtic rock, and even Celtic music, fans will appreciate. It is available now. More information on The Underdogs is available now online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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