The Real McKenzies – [Album]

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

At this point, doesn't every fan of any given punk band get a little chill when they hear that said band picked up acoustic guitars for a set one night? Ten years ago, it might have been a thrilling change, but now punk 'going acoustic' just seems to mean that whichever band has done it had to fill time while they came up with some new ideas for a proper release. Some naysayers could easily make such a claim of The Real McKenzies' new acoustic live album too – but at least the band has had the common decency their material down too far in this case. Captured during a three-night stand in August, 2009 at Wild At Heart, Shine Not Burn will be instantly endearing to fans and those who love St. Patrick's Day as much or more than Christmas, even if the record is a bit fluffy. See, on this album, the last great saviors of Celti-punk do a fairly decent job of turning down the volume on their trad punk rock anthems (the gang – along with “Best Day Until Tomorrow,” “King O' Glasgow,” “Whisky Scotch Whisky,” “10,000 Shots” and “Droppin' Like Flies” – is all here) but it often feels like an extended novelty as the record plays out because, well, it is; everyone can have fun with the band here and the audience in-house clearly does but, as much fun as it is, the record also feels about as hollow and farcical as a Robbie Burns Day celebration in Canada (I can get away with saying that, only because I've been the cook that made and served Haggis to a bunch of Dutchmen in my hometown in the name of pride) or a St. Patrick's Day bar bash held anywhere other than Ireland (or maybe Boston). It just feels a little contrived.

Singer Paul McKenzie would probably slap me upside the head and saying I'm thinking too much on this, and he's probably right. To be fair, Shine Not Burn is fun if you're into your second case of Scotch but, outside of a bar and without the benefit of the live spectacle to go along with obvious gags like “Pickled,” this nine-piece incarnation of The Real McKenzies feels a bit silly. As hard as they might push, the band has tremendous difficulty really leaving a lasting mark on listeners at home because there's nothing to really run the adrenaline up; a fact made painfully clear by The McKenzies' decision to include some of the most traditional of traditional numbers like “My Bonnie.” It just feels… soft because, where The Real McKenzies usually require high decibel levels to get their audience's blood flowing, they have to rely on a 'good times' spirit that sounds great initially, but doesn't hold up for long. To their credit, it does sound like te band was having great fun when they recorded Shine Not Burn, it's just a pity that the energy didn't translate beyond the moment that the album was recorded.



The Real McKenzies – “10,000 Shots” – Shine Not Burn


Shine Not Burn is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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