I knew this guy in college who sold sounds. Like–he had developed these sound waves that he said would increase your brain’s production of dopamine or serotonin and things that will make you high without actually taking actual drugs and he was weird and I don’t even know if they work or if that’s a real thing but he tried to sell them to me all the time because I worked in the mailroom. (Some science person is probably going to write me an email about this with all kinds of corrections but whatever.) This music is like that. It doesn’t make me cry like Ashley Raines does but it makes me feel some kind of wild. It has been a long time since I have been so excited about an album as I am about the Welshly Arms. I’ve listened to their latest album non-stop for the last few days and it is still giving me chills as I write this. After the first few lines of “Dirty Work” I had to close my eyes and jump around for a minute because my body was so full of excitement that I couldn’t stop shaking. But this website is not about me and neither is this review I guess.
The Welshly Arms hails from the city of Cleveland and I have never felt so proud of my little city. This self-titled release is their third and it is glorious. These four guys have been in the music scene since their highschool days. They played SXSW last year. They played locally last week. They’re playing in Los Angeles on June 26th. (Heads up, LA friends, you don’t want to miss this!)
I don’t really know where to start here. The album. The album is great. It’s pure rock and roll infused with soulful blues. It’s dirty, it’s industrial, it’s fresh. The vocals are clear but gritty. There’s the perfect amount of distortion on the guitar. There is piano, harmonica, organ–I think that’s one of my favorite parts. There are all of these bendy, distorted guitar sounds and then there is the clean, pure piano or organ bending right along with it. Plus–more bands should use an organ.
Opening with “Love in a Minor Key” it’s easy to start dancing before the lyrics even start. Groovy, choral, exciting. It blends seamlessly into “Dirty Work” not because their sounds are remotely the same but because they sound like they were made to go together. That organ, the slight distortion, the heavy, deep beats. The vocals shout and soar. There’s the phrase, “bottle rocket skyline”. This one has been stuck in my head all day. I keep humming it.
“Aint Supposed to Rain” opens with some pinging chime sounds which remind me of the pinball parlor in the top floor of an abandoned greeting card factory which I visit monthly. The song is gritty, uplifting, thought provoking.
“We Move Easy” is gorgeous. It opens with a blusey jam on the piano joined by the harmonica. “Three Dark Days” is a trip through painted deserts without ever leaving those industrial Cleveland sounds. The deep and driving rhythms are here, the travelling vocals, the slight distortion. This song sounds like it belongs while still being completely different. “Night Prowler” is like something out of an indie comic book–the kind with gorgeous art that someone spent way too much time creating. It’s creepy as all get out, catchy as a T. Swift song, and absolutely full of groovy, danceable sounds.
“Who Knew” is the perfect way to end this perfect, perfect album. It’s slower, gentler, a sweet goodbye.
Please listen to this album and fall head over heels in love with it. It is just so excellent.