Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday show with Cheryl Waters, is “Destruction” by The Willowz from their 2009 album Everyone on Dim Mak/Downtown Records.
If push comes to shove Michel Gondry’s lovelorn Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would likely find itself in my top slot for greatest films of the decade. Way back in 2004, I saw this beautiful film two days in a row and had seen it a third time within seven days of its release. My memory is shit (thank God/Daguerre for photography), but I can still remember walking out of that theater emotionally damaged –- and actually pissed off at Gondry (and Charlie Kaufman, you overly talented SOB, why do you have to communicate with such eloquence? Seriously, not cool) for making this colossally perfect piece of modern cinema.
Alongside the obvious accomplishments of its writer and director, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind completed the emotional TKO with a elegantly face-melting soundtrack. Truly running the gamut of human feelings this soundtrack served as the launch-pad for Anaheim–based garage outfit The Willowz. Their featured tracks (the snot-rocky “Something” and jangly “I Wonder”) added a youthful exuberance to Jon Brion’s brilliantly introspective score.
Fast-forward to the end of the decade and we find The Willowz still on the rise. Following their initial exposure, the band found its way onto another of Gondry’s celluloid dreams, 2006’s The Science of Sleep, along the way banging out a multitude of records including Chautauqua, which quietly found itself on Rolling Stone’s list of “50 Greatest Albums of 2007.”
Released this past November, The Willowz latest effort, Everyone, finds the once teenage punkers on similar ground artistically –- soulful, blues-oriented garage rock (often compared to The White Stripes), but maturing sonically -- this time around opting to enlist the expertise of Grammy Award winning engineer/producer Stuart Sikes (Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Jets to Brazil’s Orange Rhyming Dictionary, The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good, and Cat Power’s What Would the Community Think?). The resultant tracks hint at a band only beginning to scratch the surface of success.
The backbone of “Destruction” calls to mind the most loveable moments of Guns ‘n’ Roses-era hair metal seduction. While Richie James Follin’s vocals are certainly “Hotel Yorba”-esque, “Destruction” ceremoniously embraces pop’s fluff while leaning most heavily on guitar-centric r&b era Rolling Stones fare (and perhaps this is why I hear GnR) to create a uniquely memorable tune that quickly shirks off simple comparisons. I can’t really dance (okay fine, not at all) so sometimes I try to picture Kate dancing to a song I’ve just heard... sort of a dancey measuring stick if you will. Anyway, I can see her having no problems here: head down, elbows up, cuttin’ a motherfucking rug.
The Willowz just performed a select few dates in the Midwest and Northeast earlier this month (and they toured earlier this year supporting The Toadies), but you can expect them to follow up their very recent release of Everyone with a full-blown tour some time next year. Check their frequently updated blog or MySpace page for news. For now, here’s a live version of “Repetition” from the new album, performed in their NYC practice space: