The Willowz
w/Forgot the Jonses, Betty Ford Falcons, Mr. Plow
Tues June 14, Funhouse, 9:30 pm, $5.

Anaheim. A corporate wart of a town, sprouting the dark curlies of cash magnets like Disneyland and Arrowhead Pond Arena on its bumpy visage. But while California's hulking homage to conglomerate entertainment is a magnet for the fannypack class, Anaheim's greatest resource is an unknown, unvarnished treasure: the Willowz.

Young, fierce, and full of contempt for all that Anaheim attempts to polish up real nice, the Willowz are the kind of music savants who'll crash your basement first, tune their instruments later, and still be plucking away unplugged on your back porch long past sun-up. Frontman Richie James Follin stutters, stalls, slurs, stops, starts, and wails his words, coloring the songs far outside the shaky melody lines, while the rest of the quartet revels in mastering stoned glam garage blues and flourishes of freeform experimentation. Chanting cults, feedback malfunctions, saxophone bleats, church organs, and lysergic keyboard notes haunt spaces inside and between the songs.

"It seems like everything I had is gone," Follin wails on "Cons & Tricks," a song from the recent Talkincircles that fades like a backward recording of a motorcycle kicking into gear. Follin commands and demands his anthems with the tortured loins of an alley cat looking for action, whining for a female to "take me home" on "Vicar Love," and pleading "Gimme gimme that's mine, not yours/I don't want friends except for yours" on "Categories." Bassist Jessica Reynoza gets his back, wavering between hysterics and hushed sweetness, tethering Follin's insanity in her delivery.

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And yeah, there's all the stats in the Willowz's favor: They had a track in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; director Michel Gondry was so smitten he directed the Willowz's first music video for nothing; infamous garage-rock label Sympathy for the Record Industry released their most recent records. But when you muddle '70s rock, '60s garage, and hope-to-die-promises to come undone on cue, you're still in the underbelly of this thing called the entertainment business. The mayor of Anaheim may never give them the keys to the city, but these basement dwellers are kings of a grimy domain all their own.

jennifer@thestranger.com

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