Cold Snap Preview: Captain Redbeard & The SS Friendship

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You can see Captain Redbeard & The SS Friendship perform this Friday, November 9, at WMSR Redhawk Radio’s third annual Cold Snap concert at Kofenya, 6-10pm.

Captain Redbeard & The SS Friendship is a heartfelt-emo-rock band from Columbus. They’re going to be at Kofenya this Friday (November 9th) for our third annual Cold Snap concert, so I listened to their most recent album project “Scared of Nothing: A Split.”  I was pretty impressed.

Full disclosure—I have a major soft spot for emo rock and pop punk because I went through a major depressive, angsty phase in late high school. At the time, I had a girlfriend who was the same way, and we were both pretty certain that emo/punk songs were the only entities in the world that could understand how we felt. The first half of this six-song project put me right back in that headspace. The first three songs all sound similar, and there’s a cohesive theme running through them of an unplaceable pain and loss; the singer (ostensibly Captain Redbeard) is full of longing and loneliness, but he struggles to place his emotions. So he frames this feeling around failed relationships.

In “Bull Street,” the first song, he reads letters from an ex-girlfriend and sees her “love in every line of cursive.”Throughout the song, he’s haunted by her phantom in his room. The lyrics provide some great imagery of their relationship: “We desecrated a sanctuary in a parking lot in the backseat of your car;” it really conveys the vibe of a young, midwestern relationship. But there’s a shift toward the end of the song—he starts scolding himself for looking back at this relationship with rose-colored glasses, and his focus changes to other concerns, like how he’s “running out of time to write some stories with words that rhyme.”

There are a few common themes in the first three songs, the central one seems to be a vessel for your loneliness, something to frame your life around. Like in “Standard Hall,” the singer laments his frustration with a relationship he believes can be this thing for him, someone who can understand and maybe even assuage whatever he’s feeling, but who is too scared to be that. He looks back and thinks, “Turns out that there’s subtext in between every word, so you can run away when you’re scared.” But he’s probably wrong about that, and he realizes that he misrepresents things to make himself feel better; he sings, “I’ve gotten really good at embellishing stories to make people feel the things I’ve lost.” He’s just really yearning for a space that he can occupy.

In “Wheeling, WV” he goes, “I got friends that are getting married, and friends that talk to God,” and he trails off because he doesn’t have something like that, and it’s a source of great frustration. I’m making these songs seem dour, though, by parsing them out like I am. Sonically, they’re pretty upbeat and fun to listen to. There’s a dissonance between the feeling they convey and what the words actually mean. It’s the musical equivalent of telling someone “I’m fine” when you’re really not.

You can check out Captain Redbeard & the SS Friendship’s music on Bandcamp.

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