This week I’ve got some more folk punk for you punk folks: Thick Red Wine’s debut album Never Wanted to Be Cool, released February 2013.
Lead singer and songwriter, Mike Wojciechowski (say that ten times fast), shares with us an intimate look at his life on this album. The first track, “Never Wanted to Be Cool,” lets us know right off the bat that Wojciechowski is not looking to satisfy anyone else’s expectations but his own. That being said, this album is certainly satisfying for anyone who always identified with the uncool kids and school and just didn’t give a shit about popularity. The acoustic guitar and Wojciechowski’s raspy-but-sweet voice, occasionally backed up by lovely female vocals (Courtney Howell, Shawnee Kilgore, Leah Nobel), banjo, mandolin, and bass (William Wallace), and snare and trumpet (Darian Momanaee), isn’t full of the typical angry cynicism one usually finds in folk punk. Instead, Wojciechowski opts for steady toleration and a sort of gritty enthusiasm about life. This album is his hand reaching out to those like him, who could care less about others’ expectations and would rather survive on their own, surrounded by friends and passions.
My main qualm with this album is that a few of the songs run on much too long with little internal variation. In general, folk punk songs such as these are more effective when they’re short and [bitter]sweet, rather than drawn out and repetitive. However, the majority of the songs are catchy and heartfelt. Never Wanted to Be Cool is reminiscent of old, pre-produced Mountain Goats songs (I’m telling you, I’m obsessed with them, you don’t even know), with a cleaner sound and even an itsy-bitsy country twinge on the tracks with banjo. My favourite is the final track, “Letters to Freud, DeSade, Everyone,” which also happens to be the longest on the album, weighing in at a whopping 7 minutes and 45 seconds:
In all, I’m a major proponent of this album. Thick Red Wine represents a large part of what makes music good. As Wojciechowski writes on his Bandcamp page, “i’m a writer, a punk, a geeky encyclopedic music obsessive. and i very much believe in the intrinsic value of pursuing art that makes you happy regardless of who else it is or isn’t making happy.” That message in itself is enough for me to encourage you and everyone you know to give Thick Red Wine a listen and download their album.