Thick Red Wine – Raw and honest folk-punk


A first listen to Thick Red Wine’s Never Wanted to Be Cool may dial you back to that one talented friend of yours who would casually pick up a stray acoustic at a house party, start playing, and soon grab the whole party’s attention. In fact, immediately after listening to the first track, you may be compelled, as I was, to see the person behind the album’s vocals and strums. Sure enough, one of the top YouTube results, will reveal just that: Mike Wojciechowski performing in front of a group of friends.

The album, a self described folk-punk permutation, is a collection of songs that are funny, clever and also intentionally share the singer’s vulnerabilities. Distinguishing himself from other musicians of this variety, Thick Red Wine reaches further back in life, with stories from childhood through adolescence and beyond.

The album shares the name with its first track “Never Wanted to Be Cool,” a track which does a great job telling a story many can likely find parallels to in their own lives. “Never Wanted to Be Cool” is a throaty tale about a recess fight, but more thoroughly about popularity, identity and the social complexities that are introduced in life at an early age, and quite frankly, never leave. These themes surface early in the album and continue throughout.

“Meeting Girls” and “If I Had A Shotgun” zero in on growing up and becoming a man. “Meeting Girls” lists a healthy variety of types of women that would be suitable for Wojciechowski and how he could make it work, concluding, “Some people never try things afraid of what could go wrong. It seems strange to me to be scared of what could go right.”

“Geneva’s Song” continues Wojciechowski’s life recollections, most notably a prior yearning to be a background singer for Ginuwine or Usher. Among the tales, Wojciechowski describes joining the junior high jazz band, playing the National Anthem before 40,000 and then discovering his instrument was not plugged in. Toward the end of the track, Wojciechowski celebrates his confidence in his music and the opportunity to play loud for all to hear.

The album does a great job combining raw acoustics and throaty vocals with entertaining coming-of-age tales. The lyrics almost require a close ear to follow along; something made easy by the rhythmic acoustics that play along throughout the album.

A music video for “Never Wanted to Be Cool,” created by a friend of Wojciechowski’s, is a series of illustrations that tell the story behind the song and reinforces not only the relatable stories across the album, but also the likable nature of Mike Wojciechowski. After listening to the album, you want Thick Red Wine to be the entertainment at your next party.

– Arash Zafarnia