FLOGGING MOLLY; "Float" (Side One Dummy Records) *** 1/2THE TOSSERS; "Gloatin' and Showboatin': Live on St. Patrick's Day" (Victory Records) *** 1/2
The Irish-English combo the Pogues were set to take over the music world nearly 20 years ago before various personal differences, substance abuses and other disputes led to their disbanding.
Many bands have tried to duplicate the Pogues' trademark mix of Celtic punk, traditional Gaelic folk and crazed Eastern European Gypsy rhythms since then. None of them have been as successful as American acts Flogging Molly and the Tossers.
Two new releases by these groups are among their best:
• "FLOAT" IS THE fourth, studio-recorded, full-length release by the California-based, seven-piece Flogging Molly, and it features a smoother, more produced sound, which polishes some of the music's rawer edges.
But it rarely works to the detriment of the material, and this is another strong set of songs, written or co-written by multi-instrumental/vocalist Dave King.
"(No More) Paddy's Lament" is a keeper, while Matthew Hensley's accordion fuels the brisk "From the Back of a Broken Dream."
And King's songwriting continues to mature. There are fewer Irish drinking songs and more mournful tunes, such as the discontented "Man With No Country."
There are also a pair of beautiful relationship-based odes, "Between a Man and a Woman" and "The Story So Far." The latter was co-written by King and his part-
ner, Bridget Regan, who is also Flogging Molly's fiddle player.
• AS TOUTED BY its "Live on St. Patrick's Day" subtitle, "Gloatin' and Showboatin'" is a live release by the Chicago-based, seven-piece Tossers.
It's also an economically priced, 2-for-1 deal. It features CD and DVD versions of the same 2006 concert that was performed and recorded in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd.
The 70-minute, 15-song set consists of material recorded prior to the release of the group's 2007 "Agony" full-length album, arguably the Tossers' best to date.
Originals such as "Buckets of Beer" and "The Crutch" are mixed with traditional covers ("Tell Me Ma," "Irish Rover") and give an accurate picture of what the band's booze- and sweat-soaked live show is really like.Both the CD and DVD are also refreshingly free of distracting crowd participation noise and other antics. DVD extras include five additional live songs (recorded during different concerts) and three music videos, including the goofily amusing "Good Mornin' Da."