You'd think that one of the requirements for being a lead singer in a band is the ability to sing. It's a small detail, perhaps, and yet it seems not to have occurred -- or not to have mattered -- to the L.A.-based, Irish-flavored septet Flogging Molly.
Dubliner David King, the band's 43-year-old founder and frontman, is the squawk vox for the newly successful folk-punk group. On the slower songs, he sounds like Popeye gargling. On the faster ones -- and the vast majority are fast -- he sounds like Popeye gargling a cat.
But if it doesn't matter to the band that the frontman can't sing, it also doesn't seem to matter to the band's fans. The group's just-released CD, "Within a Mile of Home," debuted at 20 on the Billboard chart. And at a sold-out 9:30 club Monday night, a raucous, fist-pumping, body-surfing audience turned the floor into a riotous mosh pit and chanted along with every Guinness-fueled chorus. The only thing missing was the soccer game.
Flogging Molly's brash Celtic style (not to mention song titles like "Rebels of the Sacred Heart" and "If I Ever Leave This World Alive") has earned it comparison to the Pogues. But that seems quite a stretch. Shane MacGowan, the oft-besotted leader of that key Irish band, could actually sing when he had to. And there was much more to his songs than roustabout shout-alongs.
A better way to think of Flogging Molly is: Riverdance with a bad attitude. Loads of adrenaline and testosterone and shamrocky sentiments whipped together to foment rebellion and change the world -- or at least get a good drink on. There have been worse assaults on the integrity of Irish music (In Tua Nua comes to mind). But Flogging Molly too deserves to be taken to the woodshed.
-- Joe Heim