Blazing guitars, thundering drums — and bagpipes.

They might seem like an odd combination but slam them together with a bunch of guys from Chicago’s South Side and you have the band Flatfoot 56. You also have a sound that delivers aggressive street punk, or Oi!, with a traditional Celtic flair.

The Bawinkel brothers and their multitalented friend Josh Robieson took a swing through Japan last month, opening for the Celtic-flavored mainstream band Flogging Molly. On May 15, they’ll release their second album, “Jungle of the Midwest Sea.”

Flatfoot 56 stepped in when Flogging Molly’s original tourmates ran into visa problems. They performed in Nagoya, Osaka and the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, where some military family members caught the concert.

“They went crazy,” vocalist Tobin Bawinkel said. “I had some people tell us that they had never seen kids respond that well to an opener that most of them had never heard before. That’s always a good thing to hear.”

However, Japanese concertgoers still behaved differently than Americans.

“They don’t get as crazy as American kids do as far as jumping around and moshing and stuff like that,” Bawinkel said. “They do that but it’s a little more controlled. They have a little bit more respect for each other.”

The band primarily played songs from its previous CD — “Knuckles Up” — which is widely distributed in Japan. However, the band did squeeze in some songs from its upcoming disc, as well as “Amazing Grace,” which makes an appearance in all of the band’s sets.

A song that was particularly popular was “Chinatown Jailbreak,” a hard-driving song about being imprisoned by sin. “A lot of people have been responding to it in general. Actually, the guys from Flogging Molly really like that song,” Bawinkel said.

However, there’s no shortage of assertive music and lyrics on “Jungle.” In 14 tracks, the band rarely eases up on the throttle. Sure, Robieson adds some mandolin and bagpipes, but their presence serves to pump even more energy into a song.

The disc opens with “The Galley Slave,” a grim, rhythmic stomping song about a Christian sentenced to a Roman slave galley. It sort of sounds like Celtic pirate punk.

The disc then explodes into “Carry ’Em Out,” a full-force punk romp about dragging a friend out of his bed in the middle of the night.

With the band’s roots in street punk, it’s no surprise that Bawinkel’s full-throated vocals often focus on social commentary. “Loaded Gun” offers an in-your-face blast against violence. “City On a Hill” aggressively challenges believers to put their faith into practice.

“Bright City” seeks change in the band’s hometown. “Hoity Toity” rails against vanity. The title track recalls one of the most famous social commentaries of all time, Upton Sinclair’s indictment of Chicago’s meat-packing industry, “The Jungle.”

“Oi! tends to be more about the working-class people,” Bawinkel said. “… That style of punk, which is what we gravitated toward, is a style that mostly champions the everyday people who make our country work the way it does, make this place a great place to live in.”

Similar concern for the working class can be found in other genres that helped shape the Bawinkel brothers — Tobin, Justin and Kyle. They grew up listening to Celtic, bluegrass and folk music.

Because of the Celtic influences, the guys occasionally break into Irish or Scottish accents during some of their songs. Although this might seem a bit affected at times, the music is so energetic and fun that it’s quickly forgiven.

Although punk and Celtic sensibilities define the band’s music and lyrics, almost every song contains a strong dose of faith.

“Our faith is a big part of our life,” Bawinkel said. “And honestly, if you’re a musician, you’re going to sing about things that are important to you. … It’s who we are as people and it’s what we believe.”

Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry.

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