Yes, I am one of the few true native Phoenicians, and as such when I was asked to write about a band from Tucson I was obviously a little apprehensive. I judge everything from Tucson harshly. I am not saying it is right, but it happens when you are born in Phoenix, sorry.
But today I have to swallow my pride and admit something... The Wolfgang, a rock trio from Tucson, is good. And not just good, they totally rock and I love their album. That stings a little to admit being the natural rivalry between the two cities, but it feels good to admit the truth.
The group of self taught musicians came to the attention of staffers here at YabYum with their song “Back Alley Serenade” which won our Summer Song Contest. The band members consist of Willee Wolfgang, Willee Wilson and Baron von Wilhelm also known as (surprise) Willee. Willee (Wolfgang) contributes guitar and vocals with Wilson and von Wilhem providing the rhythmic backbone to support the songs. This basic band structure provides the perfect forum for a classic rocknroll revival the likes of which has been missing from the musical landscape for too long.
Listening to the album, Songs From The Hummingbird House, one cannot help but be reminded of the Doors. Willee Wolfgang’s voice is dark and brooding and reminiscent of Jim Morrison spitting out lyrical poetry over simple and engaging musical foundations. “Sundown” in particular feels to me like it could be played back to back with any track from the Doors’ Strange Days album and would seem a perfect modern interpretation of their predecessors had set out to express.
Willee’s voice reaches a near growl at times. The track “Monster” reminded me of what might happen if Danzig covered an Animals song. I could hear elements of both groups in this track and the song is in turn dark and fascinating.
The drums seem to drive the musical force of the group. The vocals are high in the mix and hit you in the face with power and impact, but the drums keep the tracks going where the vocals evolve, like a heartbeat maintaining the rhythm of the experience without any uneven palpitations. This is an album for the listener who wants to sing along and move to the beat.
In true to homage to The Doors the album even finished off with an 8 minute song. This is a great flashback to the long and meandering conclusions of the former group, and like the great Doors albums the listener finds themselves almost sad at the finite length of the final track. It turns out that when you are just hitting your stride in an 11-track album of rocking, vintage inspired, long overdue real rock and roll songs, 8 minutes may not be enough to sum it all up. Better hit that repeat button again.
I guess I will have to stop judging Tucson and all that comes from it so harshly. At least for now.