The Willowz - Fifth

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2017-09-15

The Willowz have been around for a while, making their entry into the pop vernacular via their songs being on the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack over ten years ago. Along the way, they’ve garnered plenty of acclaim with their music being featured in a variety of places from HBO and Netflix to Mountain Dew. Hailing from Anaheim, they play an eclectic brand of garage rock, incorporating a broad swath of influences that convey a sense of breadth as well as urgency.

Their cleverly titled fifth album 5th Album, underscores the notion of more bang for your buck, with ten songs that come in just under a half hour. After eight years away to work with other projects (Cults, Guards, Birds, The Last Shadow Puppets), singer/songwriter Richie James Follin, bassist Jessica Reynoza, and drummer Loren Humphries are back for more tight, garage band decadence.

There’s a mid-70s, arena rock feel across the record, with heaping spoonfuls of glam and hard rock giving the whole set a delicious retro flavor. The one-two punch of the opening numbers “See You Again” and “Don’t Let Them See” set the plate for a raunchy set of greasy fuzz.

Initial single “Just Can’t Wait” has a head banging, single-along chorus hook and a distortion-drenched solo, “All The Same” invokes Cheap Trick at the top of their game, and “Never Let You Go” turns the guitars up to the Retro setting, bringing on a sense of the timeless, glorious innocence of simple, pure, kick ass rock. Slowing things down a bit is the chill “Anyways,” the longest number in the bunch, although still less than five minutes in length. Summed up, this is an album that slowly worms its way into your head and heart, stealthily transitioning from mildly interesting to utterly compelling.

I’m a sucker for the sound of rock that colored my adolescence, and The Willowz 5th Album brings that period to life once again. Speaking of the long hiatus between Willowz albums, Follin said, “Rock and roll music is in its own little time warp so it sounds just as fresh as it did when we first tracked it.” Knowingly of not, he may have just summed up the uniqueness of rock music, destroying the long-held geezer cynicism that there’s no good new music being made anymore. There certainly is, but you first have to listen. This is as good a place as any to begin.

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