Thursday, June 24, 2010

CD Review: Welcome To Ashley - Beyond the Pale

When I hear terms like post-rock or post-punk being used to describe bands, it brings to mind lackadaisical slugs sloshing through dirges with wimpy vocals and lifeless arrangements. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Welcome To Ashley, even though they claim to have post-punk influences. On their full-length debut, Beyond The Pale, which follows last year’s critically acclaimed Absent Man EP, the band infuses catchy melodies with a raw energy fueled by some inventive guitar playing. In an interesting change of pace, the final track, “End Of The Line,” has a simple, acoustic arrangement that captures the gritty charm of The Kooks.

Originally from Nashville, but now based in Chicago, Welcome To Ashley calls to mind Eleventh Dream Day on hard-edged songs like “Gotta Get Back To You” and “I Love Monday Mornings.” “Light Of Love” is a high-speed, punk rock romance that features lead vocalist Coley Kennedy pining for a missing loved one, and on the equally aggressive “Thursday Afternoon,” he notes, “I’m not well as far as I can tell.” On “The Catbird Seat,” the band creates a theatrical ambience as Kennedy pokes fun at the entertainment industry, while the weird images conjured in the peppy “These Dreams Of Mine” are a lot of fun.

Welcome To Ashley has a gig coming up at Subterranean in Chicago on July 10th.

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