For the record: The Dropkick Murphys

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Records are rated on a scale of one (awful) to four (classic) stars:

Dropkick Murphys 'Nobody's 'Signed & Sealed in Blood' (Born & Bred Records)

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained

These boys from Boston are in no danger of breaking new ground, unless it's a sidewalk somewhere. Instead, the mission is to serve up rowdy drinking songs, and in that regard, "Signed & Sealed in Blood" is another rousing success.

Gravel-voiced Al Barr and growling Ken Casey lead the charge on the usual mix of breakneck Celtic punk tunes and galloping mug-raising ballads. The Murphys steer clear of narrative (like on 2011's "Going Out in Style") and away from politics to rip it up and have some fun.

Arriving as an early candidate for best Christmas song of 2013 with "The Season's Upon Us," a devilishly clever portrait of holiday dysfunction to accompany the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" ("With family like this, I would have to confess, I'd be better off lonely, distraught and depressed").

There's a different season celebrated in "Jimmy Collins' Wake" -- the 1903 one when the Red Sox beat the Pirates in the World Series and "Honus Wagner sat there cryin'." (Mr. Casey, of course, never fails to pick sports fight when he comes here.)

"Rose Tattoo," which will have you shouting along with the chorus midway through, includes a cry of "Black and gold, we wave the flag!" Of course, it's the Black & Gold Bruins he's honoring, but we can always swipe that tune for the Pens this year if we need it.



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