April 7, 2008

Red Collar :: “Used Guitars”

There is a visceral, rough-hewn punch to this song from Durham, North Carolina quintet Red Collar, a fast-rising local group that was recommended to me by a student reporter for the UNC Daily Tar Heel during the course of an interview. Somehow we got to talking about the fury that will always exist in the thousands of fledgling bands around the country who sweat it out and work for every new set of ears that hear their music — the ones that are earnest and spread their own brand of fire through intense live shows and word of mouth. Ones like Red Collar.

These guys (and one gal) have vibrancy and melody, with a smart and honest punk aesthetic reminiscent of influences like Rancid or Fugazi. It’s hook-filled rebel music with heart, topped in this song with biting lyrics of alienation and disillusionment.

When I heard this song, it felt a hot-faced glance back into the insecurity of teenage dreams — the hopefulness slicing against the feeling of unexpectedly running smack into a hidden brick wall at full speed. It’s angry and it’s sad, but dangit if it doesn’t have those “bah-bah-buh-dahhh” backing chorus, as if all your friends at the pub are chiming in. We can’t be everything we wanted to be.

Used Guitars – Red Collar

I guess this means we’re not on our way
But the wants that I wanted
they were the wants that I had yesterday
And there’s a boy looking for a great buy
Just another boy with a dream, he’ll be quick to realize

That we were made to fail every day
Maybe what we want is just too much to ask
I once reached for stars
but now I sell these used guitars
And I wish you all the luck that I never had

This one’s for the songwriter who left on a business matter
This one’s from a family man who went on to start another
This one’s from a guy who grew up or gave up
They always said what he had to say, oh well it was silly anyways

That we were made to fail every day
Maybe what we want is just too much to ask
I once reached for stars
but now I sell these used guitars
And I wish you all the luck that I never had.

It was all just a pastime anyway
wanting to make you dance
Was it fear of what I had to say?
or maybe just circumstance?
Here comes that boy with his great buy
One more boy, one more dream

You’re gonna fail every single day
But all the things you need can’t be bought here anyway
Reach past my stars
and smash all these used guitars
Cause all the luck that you ever had died when you were born

We can’t be everything we wanted to be
We can’t be everything we wanted to be

Red Collar has an EP for sale called the Hands Up EP and they’re finishing their full-length debut with producer Brian Paulson (Wilco, Archers of Loaf, Superchunk). In addition to fantastic songs like this, they also have a thought-provoking essay entitled “Boobies or the ability to fly?” on their MySpace. Hmmm. Indeed.

[photo credit Dave Jones]

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  • punky, ok …. but, too soft to stand the comparison with fugazi, in my opinion.
    i like it, though

    tumbling upwards — April 8, 2008 @ 9:56 am

  • grateful for the introduction
    been a long time since i heard something like this
    ‘used guitars’ is too close to some bones

    ben in singapore

    Ben Etc — April 8, 2008 @ 10:18 pm

  • It’s a winner. Like it, but the scars run too deep to really pay attention to the words. Guess that’s what makes it good, huh?

    Ruralgurl — April 9, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  • When I hear a new band that I like, in the back my mind I always wonder why. Some good bands capture the energy of the moment they are in and fail to get better than good , and others capture a rough impression of that moment and grow into something tremendous since they are 2 steps ahead and 2 steps behind. I think these guys have a lot of potential if they are the latter. Early U2 or Rolling Stones?

    Anonymous — April 9, 2008 @ 8:06 pm

  • The EP is very good, but RC’s live show is a must. For those who find their tastes leaning more towards Fugazi than Springsteen, check out “Hands Up.” Thanks for the post, Heather.

    Chris — April 10, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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