Street Dogs - Fading American Dream
Release Date: October 24, 2006
Record Label: DRT Entertainment/Brass Tacks
Fading American Dream is, to borrow one of the band’s choruses, a battle cry for the common people. Frontman Mike McColgan has had quite an illustrious career, and Street Dogs is an outlet for him to speak his mind. From his time in the Army during Desert Storm to his three years in Boston punk rock outfit Dropkick Murphys to his career as a member of the Boston Fire Department through today, McColgan has always been a supporter of the “little guy.” He left the fire department to concentrate on Street Dogs, but his toughness shines through on the edgy, infectious aural blast known as Fading American Dream, the band’s third full-length.
Raucous guitar/bass combinations highlight much the disc as ample support for McColgan’s single range vocals. He may not hit any high notes, but you will be hard-pressed to find an album with more raw emotion than Fading American Dream. Fast-paced with simply memorized lyrics, “No Without a Purpose” is the type of hard-hitting, message-bearing punk track that I have been waiting all year for. With a definite political slant, it will still get a crowd riled up and start the crowd surfing full-bore. “Never give up, never give up, never walk away, always fight it!” demands McColgan in a tone reminiscent of some of Tim Armstrong’s more anti-establishment music. There is something about the lyrics in “Tobe’s Got a Drinking Problem” that is sure to evoke a smile. That said, a harmonica intro leads into one of the best story-based songs on the album. Street Dogs make no apologies; they are here to have fun and teach you a thing or two. The battle lines have been drawn. You’re either with them or against them.
With the battle lines drawn, the harmonica-fueled “Shards of Life” brings the psychological impact of war on the soldiers’ families and friends home to the listeners. There is a lot of bitterness on McColgan’s part, and that is part of what makes songs on this CD so emotional. They’re not just Irish-themed drinking songs or a bunch of shouting about how much our president sucks. He has been there and has been through everything he’s singing about. A devastating drum intro opens “Rights To Your Soul,” which soon evolves into a breakneck sing-along chorus, much like the album’s title track does. However, the emotional “Final Transmission” may sell you on the album. The rhyme structure of the song is a bit awkward, but lyrically it tells a heart-wrenching story about a teenage soldier who has headed off to war and is killed. “Parris Island was plain hell on earth, got Gunny yelling at him, better prove your worth. Moved onto Baghdad ‘bout six months on, caught an IED today, now he is gone.” Each time through, “Final Transmission” is guaranteed to give you chills, with McColgan’s matter-of-fact lyrics and the serene acoustic guitar throughout.
Fading American Dream has a twofold purpose. You can appreciate one or the other easily enough, but truly to understand how much feeling went into this masterful CD, you need to grasp both fully. McColgan’s pro-troops, anti-war sentiments ring true the whole time, and in a time of war, this is something we can all empathize with. The flip side is the upbeat cry in favor of the common man. Fading American Dream appeals to both sides of the political aisle and fans all over the musical spectrum. October 24th will be a day for the common people; mark my words.