In most cases, music is an ever-changing medium. Different genres and sounds can quickly become popular, sometimes fading away just as fast. But in rare instances, certain styles, like Bruce Springsteen’s patented brand of working-class rock, never seem to die. Take the current revitalization for example. Led by recent chart toppers, The Gaslight Anthem, the New Jersey-based sound has slowly, but surely worked its way back into popular culture, with a slew of bands adopting and incorporating the style to varying degrees. Red Collar can count themselves among those who have succeeded, combining the sound’s origins with enough of a modern twist to make it unique. And with the band’s second release, entitled Welcome Home, they manage to create something which should shoot them directly to the forefront of the movement.
Welcome Home opens up with “Orphanage,” a track that begins with only the drums and near chanting of lead vocalist Jason Kutchma. By the time the full band joins in on the action, you have an instantly catchy track, with guitar riff after guitar riff blowing through your speakers. The pure energy radiating from the song acts as the perfect opener to an album full of memorable moments. A similar tempo continues with the track, “American Me,” which describes the national hopes we have here in America. “Here you got no name and you got no crown/But that won’t hold you back or hold you down,” sings Kutchma, evoking the feelings of patriotism which Springsteen managed to perfect over the years.
In “The Old Piano Roll,” Kutchma uses his grizzly pipes to praise the healing power of music, using the gathering around a piano as the metaphor. “Fade Into the Night” continues the high energy feel, but instead shows off instrumentally, with a mid-song guitar solo as the highlight. The band then shows off their range when they slow it down for the standout track, “This House.” The guitar-led ballad brings you in with Kutchma’s voice and lyrical work that speaks of past mistakes in life and how it somehow lead to that special someone. When the song breaks out into the full band, the impact is heightened that much more.
“Dodge K” and “Choices” are equally catchy, while incorporating a variety of different guitar riffs. The tracks again show that classic influence of the past, all the while adding a modern and unique touch with great backup vocals that blend in perfectly. “Losing My Accent” reflects on what home used to mean and how things change as you get older. The song ends with the lyrics, “Oh my home it’s not so far away,” showing that the writer hasn’t completely lost hope concerning those vanishing feelings. The entire album is summarized in its final song, which also serves as the title track. It again touches on that feeling of how things use to be, along with the trial and error process which leads you through life. All along, you do have the welcoming comfort of home.
Sound Quality: The album sounds excellent on vinyl. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, the sound is instantly amplified, presenting a clearer overall picture of what exactly the band accomplished.
Packaging: The packaging is highlighted by the record sleeve, which doubles as your lyrics. The artwork for the record is of an old train station in Durham, which just adds to the theme of the album.
Extras: An immediate digital download comes with the album.
Summary: Red Collar achieves quite the feat with Welcome Home, cementing their spot in the working-class rock genre, all the while avoiding the usual pitfalls of unintentional imitation. They display an outstanding range, all the way from the up-tempo, high energy songs, to the slower, more lyric-fueled tracks like “This House.” The band keeps the theme steady throughout and each song gives a great preview of how energetic their live shows most likely are. This band deserves to be at the forefront of the trend made so popular by The Gaslight Anthem and Welcome Home proves that.
Make Sure to Spin: “This House” and “Welcome Home”
“Welcome Home” is still available over at Tiny Engines’ webstore.