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Real Mckenzies - 10,000 Shots

  by Alex Halls

published: 18 / 9 / 2005

Real Mckenzies - 10,000 Shots
Label: Fat Wreck
Format: CD


Distinctive and highly individual punk on fifth album from the hard-drinking The Real McKenzies, who merge their guitars with traditional instrumentation including the bagpipes

Amongst the wealth of Irish-influenced punk rock bands that are already established or emerging, one might easily see The Real McKenzies fitting neatly into that category if it were not for the distinct sound of the bagpipes that draws us rightly towards the Scottish Highlands rather than the Emerald Isle. The Real McKenzies consists of Paul McKenzie (vocals); Dirty Kurt (guitar); Bone (guitar); Matthew McNasty (bagpipes); Sean (war drums); and Little Joe (bass), all names that fit with the band’s individual style of music and approach to life. Don’t be fooled into thinking that The Real McKenzies are a new band. They’ve been around since frontman Paul McKenzie started the band in 1994 as a form of humorous revenge for the constituent parts of his childhood that involved being forced into wearing a kilt and dancing to Scottish traditional music: who says punk rock has lost its rebellious nature? Yet, as with their Irish-influenced counterparts, Flogging Molly, there is undoubtedly much to take from their roots. The inclusion of the traditional instruments is certainly the starting point but The Real McKenzies go further: their act is entertainingly based upon that very Highland dress that McKenzie revolted against, the very kilt, stockings and sporran that are synonymously attached to Scotland no matter where one goes. The Real McKenzies now release their fifth album but the first on their new label Fat Wreck. One can indeed see why this label has finally picked up on this band as there is a real margin of progression from earlier material which had a tendency to sound wayward yet had moments of true inspiration which are still to be found on '10,000 Shots'. It is this inspiration, along with lead singer McKenzie’s rasping voice that completes the band and helps set '10,000 Shots' as the archetypal Scottish punk rock album. Opening track of thirteen, 'Smokin’ Bowl', sets the standard for what is to come on the record. It’s the song that Fat Wreck uses to market the band and it isn’t hard to see why: energy and playful swagger are to be found aplenty. Every instrumental part is combined perfectly on '10,000 Shots' to produce a highly desirable and easily listenable sound and, whilst a few tracks return quite heavily to their Highland bases, leaving the punk rock somewhat behind, such as in 'The Catalpa' with its typical ballad tune, there are many memorable moments that one cannot help but return to play after play. 'Pour Decisions' describes McKenzie’s bad decision to choose music as a career as the older one gets the less desirable playing punk rock might be. The song delightfully plays on words (naturally on a drinking theme) to the effect of stating that a brewery manager would have been a more enviable opportunity for such a man even if, this song aside, in '10,000 Shots', one still gets the sense that McKenzie enjoys what he does. With an openly stated strategy of spending as little time in the studio as possible in order to maximise their drinking hours, The Real McKenzies must be efficient musicians as '10,000 Shots', under the production control of ‘Fat’ Mike (singer/bassist for NOFX and Fat Wreck co-owner), is pretty much flawless in sound and organised to perfection, as one song leads into another without fuss. "Thoroughly energetic" could well be the term used to describe these Scottish-Canadians’ music and its cause may well lie with the band’s beer and Scotch whisky diet… …I wouldn’t be surprised if a haggis crept in there somewhere too. '10,000 Shots' maintains the band’s traditional sound and gives us another drink-fuelled punk rock ear-bashing at the same time. The music is as original as it ever was and proves the merits that can be found in the introduction of new sounds into genres: it’s just a shame a Scottish-based band has never quite had the same effect on the punk world to date.

Track Listing:-
1 Smokin' Bowl
2 Best Day Until Tomorrow
3 Will Ye No Come Back Again?
4 Pour Decisions
5 I Hate My Band
6 Farewell To Nova Scotia
7 Bugger Off
8 10,000 Shots
9 13
10 The Skeleton And The Tailor
11 Comin' Thro' The Rye
12 The Ale Is Dear
13 The Catalpa

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