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The Willowz

Who? Singer/guitarist Richie James Follin joined forces with bassist/vocalist Jessica Reynoza while in still in high school. Although original drummer Alex Willow is no longer part of the lineup, the group is rounded out by guitarist Aric Bohn and drummer Loren Humphrey. Their fourth studio effort, Chautauqua, drops March 20 on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak imprint.

What’s the Deal? Already the cherished underdogs of California culture rags like OC Weekly and Los Angeles CityBeat, the Willowz formed in 2002 to not-so-successful results. The California music press refrained from pouncing on the band’s garage rock sound and early ’80s punk influences, thus the Willowz’ un-Anaheim sound won them the coveted title of “Most Hated Band in Anaheim.” Follin, whose rocking chops fall between Jack White and Robert Plant, shifts between raw, garage rock-driven performances and softer, folk-inspired tunes. “Evil Son” most readily recalls the two-step rhythm and bluesy vocals of the White Stripes, enlivened with lush orchestral arrangements and a pregnant guitar solo straight out of a 1960s acid trip. Other tracks such as “Jubilee” evoke blues, folk and even country influences, showcasing the Willowz’ carefully honed stylistic prowess.

Fun Fact: The band’s self-titled debut album caught the attention of French director Michel Gondry, who included the band’s songs, “Something” and “I Wonder,” to the soundtrack for his 2004 quirky romantic comedy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The album earned a Grammy nomination for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media in 2005.TIFFANY WAN

Now Hear This:Willowz – “Evil Son” DOWNLOAD MP3

On the Web:The Willowz at My Space

Talk: Could the Willowz really be considered “The Worst Band in Anaheim?”