"The first words I ever learned/ Were 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' and 'heartbreak!'" Jason Kutchma roars at the onset of "American Me," the first single from Red Collar's new LP Welcome Home — due June 12 via Tiny Engines. The outsized Durham punk band has long mined the fractured ends of romantic ideals, but that line and the song that contains it express the band's unique brand of defiant heartbreak as well as anything they've ever released. Check it out now over at Alternative Press.
That's good news for Red Collar fans who have waited since the band's 2010 album Pilgrim for new material. Most of those songs had either been previously released or part of the band's live set for at least a couple years. In other words, a truly new Red Collar song has been long overdue, and this searing jam is just what the doctor ordered.
The song rushes to life on strident, angular guitars, Kutchma and fellow axe man Mike Jackson daring each other to up the ante with each new prickling solo or crushing riff. It swells incessantly until the moments when it crashes into silence, but it springs back to life without losing an iota of momentum. Kutchma plays up the gravel in his voice, taking on the role of the beaten-down working man without letting the pressure break him. "I ain't got a name/ Ain't got no crown/ It holds me back/ Holds me down!" he shouts out during a lull in the storm. It's a powerful anthem, one that indignantly espouses hard work even as it laments a lack of opportunity. With economic woes pressing hard — both in the music industry and everywhere else — "American Me" is a perfect fit for its time.
Red Collar will celebrate Welcome Home's release a little early with a party at Durham's Motorco Music Hall. The May 19 show will feature local math rock outfit Maple Stave as well as Signals Midwest and Restorations. Advance copies of the record will also be available.
In other news, Lost Chance Records announced today that it will release Pastoral, Kutchma's solo debut, in July. Credited to JKutchma & the Five Fifths, the LP sees him conquering various folk-rock forms with the same confident bravado he showcases with Red Collar.