The Nashville-by-way-of-Alabama quartet known as Willie and the Giant are gearing up for their debut release on April 21, 2015. They’ve somehow managed to crowbar every style you can put in front of “rock” into one album and have it not be a guttural abomination. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Willie and the Giant write and perform high quality pop songs that are so sweet they should come with diabetes warnings on songs like “Let It Go.” And they follow it up with straight-up rock and rollers, complete with entrancing backbeat and Stratocaster hellfire, such as “On the Corner”.
The record opens with a funky, jangly riffed “Still the Same,” which highlights the beauty of fellow Bama representer Matt Slocum’s Hammond B3 organ and frontman Will Stewart’s soulful vocal meanderings. Stewart and Jon Poor’s guitar work throughout shows their stylings can’t be pinned down — short choppy solos or jam band licks and extended jams weave through Grant Prettyman and Mac Kramer’s bass and drums, respectively, like a rattan chair. Pulling from many musical wells, Willie and the Giant have harvested just the right amount from each and concocted a well-crafted witch’s brew of influences and sounds. A personal favorite is the garage punk, rockabilly-tinged “Long Gone,” another highlight of Slocum’s organ, Poor’s blistering guitar work, and the band’s punk rock sensibility. Besides, you can’t finish an album any better than “Burning on the Inside.”
Captured to tape and recorded at Welcome to 1979 Studio, and released on the Cumberland Brothers Music stamp, it’s obvious Willie and the Giant were in search of a throwback sound. It’s a feat they reached in spades, recording straight to tape with everyone playing live together in the same room. “We wanted that warm, saturated sound that you can only get from tape,” Stewart says, “and Welcome to 1979 specializes in just that. It was cozy, too. Everything there is intentionally stylized to take you four decades back in time.”
You can’t fake those dynamics, and it shows in this self-titled freshman effort, Willie and the Giant emboss a mature sound that straddles the abyss of rock and roll. The band clearly schooled in the right facets and sounds of their forefathers. Funk and soul or rock and roll, all the while flashing their deep Southern roots.
We have the luxury of premiering “Tullahoma” here — the second song on the ten-track album. It’s a pure throwback rock and roll gem with it’s psychedelic organ riffs and infectious rhythmic foundation. Stewart’s haunting vocals seemingly holding the song together and ride the music like a Pacific Ocean early morning set at the same time. Open up your wallets towards the end of April and make sure you remember we told you about them. There’s a little something for everyone within these endless grooves.
+Words: Scott Zuppardo+
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