The Valley of the Shadow of Death

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Irish drinking songs and punk-rock fury go together like thongs and dollar bills. So does Southside Chicago and the Irish — having one of the highest concentrations of Celtic folk this side of the Emerald Isle. Influenced by the Pogues and Jameson Whiskey, the Windy City’s Tossers take a more traditional stance on Celtic punk than Boston old-schoolers Dropkick Murphys, and a grittier approach than Los Angeles’ Flogging Molly. The record opens with “Goodmornin’ Da” — a jig-happy ode to lost causes. “No Loot, No Booze, No Fun” finds the tipsy mandolinist and vocalist Tony Duggins’ homage to the addictions of Dee Dee Ramone. It’s not all drunken debauchery for the septet. “Go Down, Witch Down” is a ghastly attempt at a poignant war allegory — but at least you can dance to it. The instrumentation — mandolin, accordion, tin whistle, banjo and fiddle — keeps the record from becoming exasperating, because even 50 minutes of Irish melodies is a bit much without a gutful of pints.

Dustin Walsh writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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