Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “The Astronaut” by Red Collar from their 2009 self-released album Pilgrim.
Durham North Carolina’s Red Collar is a self-proclaimed throw back to the early 90’s Dischord era of straight ahead DIY rock n roll for the masses. While the masses may not be all that massive just yet (a quick check of the band’s blog sees members enthusiastically describing 10 fan shows a success), by all accounts the numbers are growing. In a lot of ways a band like Red Collar must attract new fans inch by inch, fan by head-nodding fan. So earnest in their delivery of the live performance, Red Collar is making noise on the scene with a sincerity for rock n roll that conjures images of broken down vans and sleeping on floors. The follow up to their roughly recorded Hands Up EP of two years ago, 2009’s self-released Pilgrim, is measurably more refined than its predecessor. Produced by Brian Paulson (Beck, Wilco, Superchunk) this new offering is a more mature attempt to harness the potency of a live Red Collar experience (three of the four previously released tracks have been rerecorded). Frontman Jason Kutchma’s passionate working-class vocals are hooky and accessible to most every real human being in America today. Fueled by second guitarist Mike Jackson, Red Collar’s brand of elemental punk-influenced riffing compliments the chosen subject matter perfectly. Bassist Beth Kutchma (Jason’s wife) and drummer Jon Trousdale tighten everything together like you’d expect while making their mark on each song. Kutchma’s bass floats in just the right place — a sort of co-pilot or second gun to her husband’s driving melodies. Basic in its execution the beauty of Pilgrim is the energetic sum of its swirling, reverberating parts — all coming together to recreate that feeling of personal connection between band and fan — the feeling that hangs in the air after at the end of a solid show.
All of the band’s tour dates for the summer appear to be east of the Mississippi, but hopefully the increased exposure and KEXP’s listeners’ love will draw them out West soon. Keep an eye on their website and MySpace page to see if and when that happens and to enjoy more great music from the band. For now, you can find many videos of their energetic live performances on the web, like this one of Red Collar performing a new song called “Fade Into the Night” at the Troika Music Festival last November: