Week 145: “Red” by Treble Charger


This is a 1990s alt-rock anthem that doesn’t get enough credit. Which is fitting, because the band that created it, Treble Charger, was one of those bands that seemed to teeter on the edge of a breakthrough without ever breaking through.

It’s almost like they couldn’t decide what type of band they wanted to be: the sensitive indie type, or the three-chord rawk type. This split personality might have been a result of their two-vocalist situation. Bill Priddle was the introspective one with the twangy voice who would have been right at home in a band like Iron & Wine, while Greig Nori was more oriented towards pop-punk, and would end up producing for (and living vicariously through the enormous success of) Sum 41.

To my ears, everything this band did after Nori started working with Sum 41 sounds…like it’s trying to imitate Sum 41. Having said that, their earlier recordings (including the first recorded version of “Red”) sound under-produced and sloppy. 1997’s “Maybe It’s Me” hits the sweet spot, as the band’s two principal songwriters trade tracks, each one perfecting their own style.

Ultimately though, Treble Charger may have proved too indie for commercial tastes, and too commercial for indie tastes. But at least they left behind a great album in “Maybe It’s Me”, and a great song in “Red”.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The lyrics. No song features a better description of a colour than “cigarette white”. Try finding that shade in your local paint store.

2. The good ol’ patented 1990s quiet-loud-quiet formula. Each quiet verse gives you just enough time to bust out your lighter before barreling back into the slow-mosh chorus.

3. The repeated mini-guitar solo at the end of each chorus. Catchier than the vocals.

Recommended listening activity:

Briefly considering growing out your hair.

Buy it here.