Make no bones about it — the Gaslight Anthem comparisons that Red Collar receive are not without merit. They both have their Springsteen leanings, writing songs about times gone by, with a certain wisp of nostalgia about them. However, I’d argue that Red Collar’s Welcome Home LP on Tiny Engines has more to do with the likes of Drag the River and the various punk-fueled Americana acts than sons of New Jersey.
Alternately, you could see them as taking from Americana-fueled punk acts. Avail certainly plays no small part in songs like “Dodge K Car,” a rollicking bit of anthemic rock ‘n’ roll that sets the second side of this album apart from the first. Honestly, aside from the a-side track “The Old Piano Roll” (with its really excellent guitar fade-out that reminded me of nothing so much as the end of Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Civil War”), the first half of Welcome Home is a pretty monotonic set of music. It required a good amount of convincing myself to flip it over, convinced as I was that the second batch of tracks was going to be a slog.
Cue the pleasant surprise. Not only does “Dodge K Car” grab your ears and set you to moving with the drumming that evokes the sound of a car on the road, the throat-shredding yelps on “Two Daughters” are a shock to the system, considering how quietly acoustic the track is. Welcome Home really would have benefited from better sequencing. Spacing out the energetic, upbeat tracks a little more evenly would’ve allowed the album to breathe a bit more, rather than plodding along for five tracks.
Excellent packaging on this LP. Old-school lyric sheet LP sleeve, and the first pressing features 75 on white with black swirl, 150 on clear with black smoke, and 275 on black, all on 180 gram vinyl. It includes a digital download of Welcome Home, as well, and it’s out now in a variety of packages in the Tiny Engines store.