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The Willowz

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Album Review

On their self-titled debut, the Willowz have mastered the art of sounding impassioned and totally disaffected at the same time. It's true that the Anaheim, CA, trio's garage punk calls to mind more established bands in that style, most notably the White Stripes; indeed, The Willowz has the same kind of stripped-down sound and explosive enthusiasm that made the Stripes' early albums so striking, but the Willowz are a far less arty band than the duo from Detroit. On their own terms, though, the Willowz are a fun mix of attitude and energy, two traits that describe lead Willow Richie James March. He is an impressive garage punk vocalist, with an assertive, nasally rasp that sounds instantly familiar but is still difficult to pin down. Bassist/backup singer Jessica Reynoza is the yin to March's yang, adding some depth and softness to the Willowz's sound with her harmonies. The vocal interplay between her and March works particularly well on "Meet Your Demise," which is heightened by the fun phonetic play in phrases like "meet your demise" and "mission to Mars" and on the inspired nonsense of "Get Down." Songs such as "Keep on Looking" and "Not You" make the most of March's appealingly cheap guitar tone and also underscore the influence of '80s Cali punk on their sound, while the sweetly shambling ballad "I Wonder" shows that the Willowz have a wider range than just the thrashy garage punk that they usually play. A prime example of this is "Something," the brash, funny song that was also featured in Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; as creatively used as it was in the film, it makes more sense in the context of this album than it did on the soundtrack. Still in their late teens when they recorded this album, the Willowz's youth and enthusiasm go a long way toward making their debut a fun rediscovery of styles that are, in some cases, more than twice as old as the bandmembers themselves.


Formed: 2002 in Anaheim, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Inspired by '70s and early-'80s punk as well as '60s garage rock, blues-rock, and soul, the Anaheim, CA, garage punk trio the Willowz draw from influences roughly twice as old as they are. The group formed in 2002, when singer/guitarist Richie James Follin, bassist/vocalist Jessica Reynoza, and drummer Alex Willow were all in their late teens. Follin taught Reynoza, who is also a painter, how to play bass; while in New York City that summer, he also recorded some songs with producer Paul Kostabi....
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The Willowz, The Willowz
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