Red Collar's stellar new record Welcome Home recalls Bruce Springsteen's hooks and the Replacements' energyâ?¦by which I mean the album sounds like the Gaslight Anthem. It's a derivative of a derivative, but man is it good. The only real thing separating it from Handwritten is the dreamier guitar work, but we'll get to that later.
The band even arranges the tracks like a Springsteen record, because track six/track one of side B, "Dodge K," is a total "Born to Run" moment: Triumphant guitars, big ol' hooks and a beat made to move the masses. Same goes for opener "Orphanage," a track that fires off a strong opening salvo before toying with some of the angular guitar lines that defined previous work Pilgrim. The Bruce is loose, but like many a Tiny Engines act, Red Collar still has this little thread connecting it back to post-hardcore, similar to where Restorations is going. This is the new Orgcore.
That said, the record has a couple stumbling points. Everything that comes out of frontman Jason Kutchma's mouth sounds rockin' and/or rollin', but some of his lyrics don't hold up upon consideration (example: "I think of lullabies when I think of home / A bible and ice cream cones"). Yeah, he's talking about his hometown (just like the Boss!), but the gravitas dissipates. While the band sounds absolutely fierce when firing straight ahead, they occasionally dip in shmaltz. Remember this: the differences between Born to Run and Bat Out of Hell aren't as great we like to pretend.
All the same, Welcome Home is yet another strong release from Tiny Engines, and one sure to push Red Collar in with the new crop of working class heroes.