Off Key with Eric D.

Eric D'Orazio

Since day one, The Dandy Warhols have been considered by many to be the finest college-rock band of all time. Every release they’ve put out has acquired the attention of college radio, all the way back to their 1994 debut demo, “The Instruction and Incidentals of Automobile Handling in Four.” In fact, the band gained their record deal with Capitol as a result of the college-based success of their first album, “Dandys Rule OK.”

So, in consideration of this deeply-rooted relationship, The Dandy Warhols have released “Welcome to the College EP,” a five-track “thank you” of sorts to the little-appreciated, but always important vehicle for music that is college radio.

In true form to 2000’s “Tales from Slabtown, Vol. 1 EP,” the first two songs on “Welcome to the College EP” are from the Dandys’ new album, the critically-acclaimed “Welcome to the Monkey House.” The first of those songs, the uber-hit “We Used to be Friends,” provides a great start to the disc, getting people enthused with its catchy hooks and mind-blowing musicianship. The following track, “The Scientist,” does the same. Not to be confused with the Coldplay song of the same name, this song was co-written by rock legend David Bowie, all the while procuring an overall good feeling though a sound straight from the ’80s.

Speaking of the ’80s, the EP’s following two tracks take on that decade to an extreme measure. First, there is “Relax,” a cover of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood classic that took risqué to a whole new level. In their version of the song, the Dandys take the lyrics a bit more literally, throwing in some odd but practical sound effects to further its effect. Nonetheless, the band makes the song more laid-back and mellowed-out, as opposed to the bombastic original of 20 years ago.

The second ’80s track covered by the band is “Call Me.” One of Blondie’s greatest hits, it’s tough to see how such a song can be improved upon, but truth be told, the Dandys do it justice. They put emphasis on heavy keyboards and even heavier bass riffs, turning it into a driven piece of music that has more kick than glam. Then again, the band makes sure that the song holds true to its original, intriguingly amorous subject matter, thereby allowing it to be a highly respectable cover, but at the same time a true piece of Dandy material.

As the new college EP winds down to its final track, one may pleasantly find that the Dandys have saved the best for last. The song “Sometime Sunday,” is one of the four original pieces that appeared on the band’s 1994 demo. While the other three songs went on the first album, “Sometime Sunday,” disappeared without a trace.

After being lost for nine years, it has resurfaced just for the college EP. Its content, which addresses whether or not one will pass away on a Sunday, is equally matched by its great sound, which utilizes psychedelic guitars and soothing vocals to get the message across.

All in all, the song is a superb slice of classic Dandys, not to mention a welcome alternative to all the new material found on the EP. If there was ever one true purpose for “Welcome to the College EP,” besides being a treat for college airplay, it is that it provides a good promotional outlet for the Dandys’ new album, “Welcome to the Monkey House.”

After all, both releases have similar cover art, and two of the EP’s songs are from that record. However, that latter fact makes the EP all the more important, for it shows the band’s full range of potential, and allows people who haven’t heard the new record to get a gist of the Dandys’ signature sound. And the best part of the whole thing is it also procures three non-album tracks for the listener to indulge further. Truly, when all is said and done, “Welcome to the College EP” provides more proof that The Dandy Warhols have the hottest music on the market today.