Boston-based punk outfit A Common Goal is reminiscent of the Dropkick Murphys, and I should tell you that after the first spin of their debut release Blessings and Battles, I was ready to throw the album into the unoriginal-and-completely-boring stack of the thousands of imitation Dropkick Murphys bands. And let me also say that it could very easily get lost in that sea. The chances of the common punk rock fan throwing this to the wayside are pretty high, because it does sound like Dropkick.
I almost made that mistake, and I have to tell you that I am quite excited I did not. After taking the time to listen thoroughly, I found out that A Common Goal has a very special ability that even bands that have been together for a decade do not have — and the fact that ACG have only been around since 2009 makes it even more impressive — in that they write memorable songs. The songs stick like shoes on the movie theater floor (and the popcorn does not cost $9.50). From the cut “Frame of Mind” to “Blue Collar” and to my favorite song (the title track “Blessings and Battles”), you get a full-course meal of New England boot core. There’s grainy guitar tone, and absolutely nothing in any shape or form is slick about this CD. It is a rough ride, much like a visit to the pit of a Patriots’ game — it may not be pretty, but it gets the job done.
This is a good release, not a great release. The songs are solid, the vocal hooks work (at times there’s a tinge of Volbeat), the production is a carbon copy of a Boston back alley, and the message of the songs is really good. At times, though, the backing vocals verge on unlistenable, and there is still a little too much Dropkick Murphys in them. But because the songs are so memorable, it rises to the top. Blessings and Battles: Recommended!