The Welcome-I

My introduction to Chicago-area band The Welcome was a three-track EP of R Kelly covers. It is fun and well-done, but it makes one wonder: What kind of material will these guys come up with on their own? That question was answered for me a couple nights ago when frontman Gehring Miller came by to do an interview and left me a copy of their new EP of originals, I.

Like most EP’s, I is a few tracks that have some thematic similarities, and it shows off what the band can do left to their own devices. As a whole, I enjoyed it quite a bit. That statement isn’t much of a review, though, so let’s take a journey through this thing track by track.

“Robin Robinson”

In a word-Foldsian. The song plays a bit like an indie-pop version of Johnny Cash’s “Boy Named Sue,” with just enough cleverness and attitude to keep it fun without becoming redundant. My favorite line from the song is “It’s my dad’s fault for being an asshole. He still thinks it’s funny as hell.” One of the biggest mysteries in the world to me is how some people end up with names like Robin Robinson, or John Johnson. It’s seriously cruel, and finally a song that highlights an issue that I care about.

“I Should’ve Been A Drummer”

I enjoy this song more for the musicality than the content, but it kind of plays as an opener for the next song. They share a lot of musical cues, and a connecting theme of getting older. What “Our Old House” has that this track doesn’t is a more interesting story that is relatable to the listener. This one could be relatable to some, but it doesn’t reach the masses that the next song does. I still like this song, and wouldn’t think of removing it, but it may have been a worthwhile thought to make the two tracks one somehow. I’m not a musician, so I wouldn’t know how to go about something like that, but if I were in the room, I would have suggested it.

“Our Old House”

Probably the most successful track on the EP is the third track. It’s a  soft and sweet song about returning to the place you grew up. Lots of memories come flooding back when I think about the place that I spent most of my young childhood, and this song captures that feeling pretty well. The restrained guitar work here helps maintain that balance between just the right amount of sweet and completely saccharin.

The restraint eventually falls by the wayside, and the song erupts into some crazy noise-pop. I think that this part of the song makes it my favorite song in this set. It also includes one of my favorite instruments, the harmonica.

“Paula Deen”

Well, this one is just a lark. It’s one that works well for the band, though. They seem to have a fair amount of respect for the “Butter Queen,” so I don’t begrudge them wanting to write a song about her. Not my personal favorite, but it’s still a pretty decent song. If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you may get a kick out of some of the descriptive things they say about Mrs. Deen, like how unnaturally white her teeth are.

Overall I think this is a good debut of originals for a band that seems to be able to easily move from fun indie-pop to bittersweet folk. Any issues that I have with this EP are easily overshadowed by the immense number of things I like. I look forward to the continuing series of EP’s the band is planning on releasing monthly until at least October of this year.

This Tuesday, May 3rd, The Welcome will be playing at The Elbo Room as part of the I Am Fest Battle of the Bands.

To check out the songs for yourself, head over to the groups bandcamp page: The Welcome

Finally, I wanted to include this video I found on The Welcome’s website. I find it so hilarious, and maybe you’ve run into this as well, that I enjoy every version of this song that is NOT sung by Katy Perry:

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