Despite having endured for twenty-three years, these Celtic punks still possess more energy and heart than any of the young neds and moshers coming up today. Often lumped in with Irish-identified punks such as The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly, The Real McKenzies are actually Scottish… and Canadian… and I’m sure there are those who possess a sonic palate sensitive enough to discern the difference. To a troglodyte such as myself, it all just sounds like the same boot-stomping, fist-pumping fun. It’s hard to deny the folky bagpiping on “Wha Saw the 42nd” or the emotional resonance of the more straightforward pop punk “CatchMe.” The strangely jazzy, lo-fi addition of “Bootsy the Haggis-Eating Cat”—an homage to a real, now dearly departed feline—is an endearing break from the raucous, drunken party that makes up the bulk of the album. Whether you know their every lyric, or are likely to confuse The McKenzies with one of their brethren, prepare to be charmed. Both diehards and dabblers will find something to love about Rats in the Burlap.
–Kelley O’Death (Fat Wreck Chords)