The Welcome-Hopscotch EP

If you’ve been following the site from the beginning, you probably remember an interview I did with Gehring Miller of The Welcome. During our all-too-brief, or all-too-long depending on how you feel about hearing me talk for any length of time, we discussed the bands EP project. Basically they’re putting out an EP every month until October, at least. The month of June brings us the latest volume in the series, Hopscotch.

May’s entry in the series was riddled with teen angst and insecurities (and a song about Paula Dean). Hopscotch is a complete 180, opting instead for childhood innocence and optimism. Two of the tracks are told from the point of view of a young child, the third song is told, I assume, from the stance of that child’s parent.

For the most part the record is a lark. It does capture a lot of great childhood memories, though. “Hey! Come Out And Play!” certainly makes me think about those days when my best friend and I lived within about 300 feet from each other. Any time the sun was shining, hot or cold, we were outside exploring the neighborhood on foot or bicycle. Lyrically and musically it resembles George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun” in it’s beautiful simplicity. Like a Terence Malick film, the point here isn’t to write a thought-provoking song, but conjure an emotion from the listener.

It also reminds me, both musically and content-wise, of The Eels song “Saturday Morning.”

The second track, “Mail Is Great,” was a bit too kid-oriented for me.  Granted, this song is from the perspective of a child, but the repetition of the chorus about addressing a letter just went over the top. Again, that’s for my taste. The song tells the tale of a kid being sick from school, so the other kids get together and make him/her a card. A simple enough story, but the song goes on a bit longer than it needs to. It’s right under the four-minute mark, while the other two songs are well under 3. This song would probably have benefited from the same self-editing.

The third song, “Night Vision Lullaby,” is a very sweet song. It is very literally a lullaby about bedtime. Not to be confused with the recent onslaught of famous people reading the children’s book “Go The Fuck To Sleep” (which is, admittedly, hilarious). No, this is a very sincere take on the nighttime ritual, and I think this is where Gehring Miller plays best. His voice fits this kind of tempo and melody perfect. I felt the same way on their last EP with the song “Our Old House,” which is still my favorite original that they’ve put out.

Overall I feel very similarly to this record as I did the last time ’round. There’s definitely good stuff here. Two songs that I would easily recommend to anyone, and one that I could do without. When you’re trying to put out an EP every month, it’s gotta be tough coming up with material. Some bands take five years and put out an album with 12 songs, so for that alone I applaud The Welcome. I look forward to hearing each new installment as they come.

If you’d like to download this latest release, Hopscotch, click on over to The Welcome’s bandcamp page and grab it for free!

Also, The Welcome will be playing a show this Wednesday, June 22nd, at Beat Kitchen, located at Belmont and Hoyne in Chicago. Go check ’em out if you’re available! Should be a good time!

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