When an established musician starts a new band, it’s hard to avoid drawing comparisons. There’s almost bound to be some overlap, especially when that musician is a primary songwriter for both projects. While this is definitely the case on Welcome, the debut record from Jake Ewald’s Slaughter Beach, Dog, the Modern Baseball guitarist manages to take his songwriting in a new direction. In fact, he takes it in several, and it’s those deviations that make the album so successful.
Granted, the thoughtful lyrics and air of melancholy are all still here in full force. That’s made clear from the start with opening track “Mallrat Semi-Annual,” where Ewald remarks that “It’s Halloween in Hell, but it still looks like dad’s garage.” If teenage angst isn’t your thing, the bad news is that Welcome has a lot of it, but the good news is that he explores that angst with the poise and nuance like he never has before.
This manifests itself most in the instrumentals, from the octave-pedaled leads on the chorus of standout track “Monsters” to the searing guitars on “Drinks.” The album is bookended by two interludes, “Toronto Mug” and “Toronto Mug II,” and unlike a lot of interludes these days, they don’t overstay their (wait for it) Welcome. Overall, this is a very successful debut, which means next time around, Modern Baseball has their work cut out for them.
Welcome is out now via Lame-O Records. You can catch Slaughter Beach, Dog live when they roll through Everybody Hits on November 22nd as part of their tour with Abi Reimold. Until then, you can stream the new album below via Bandcamp.
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