When it comes to modern rock music that feels indebted to the past work by giants from the genre’s earlier days, there’s practically no trace of the crucial DNA remaining in any band. Heck, most modern rock isn’t even something classifiable as straight-up rock ’n’ roll, anymore, as the current scene sees it necessary to tag on various other sounds and influences to achieve some semblance of originality in their work.
Be it the finally-fading folk wave that has been in nonstop in popular rock music for nearly a decade or the uncertain hints of the emo and post-hardcore genres giving their last gasps in hope of a revivalist band taking them to the finish line, there’s nothing that sounds quite like honest rock. Well, not in America. Meet Finnish rockers Willie and the Goodsouls as they dish up what might possibly be the last effort to save rock and roll with their self-titled album, which serves as the third release for them as a band.
Willie and the Goodsouls’ self-titled entry in their rocking good discography only pushes them closer to their influences; the American rock movement lives and breathes wholeheartedly in all eight of its tracks, so the shock and amazement that fell over me upon discovering the band’s international origins only went to send the album even higher for me. The self-titled release is barely longer than half an hour, but its passion and instrumentation are two of the crucial elements that demand repeat listenings.
The ambitious project peaks with “Double,” which sees the band delivering a workingman’s anthem that feels inherently tied to the American blue-collar lifestyle. Lead singer Ville Vesalainen (the titular Wilie) offers vocals that feel somewhere crossed between Chris Cornell and Future Islands’ Samuel T Herring, and the signature growl he brings to the polished “all-American” sound gives the entire album a magnificent weight to it. There’s a hit single waiting to be born out of “Oh My What A Dream,” which lends itself to the bluesy 70s southern rock sensibilities without hesitation. Following “Double” with it only makes the entirety of “Willie and the Goodsouls” that much more memorable as an album.
The future is uncertain in regards to touring but there’s no denying that Willie and the Goodsouls will be one of the bands to absolutely see when the music industry allows such things again; the chance at hearing a band heralding from Finland live as they deliver the most genuine rock music I’ve heard in years is too good to pass up. The upbeat “Future” is a significant love letter to bluesy country in a lot of ways, mostly in its guitar and bass work as well as its unashamed love of the tambourine, and screaming along to a song about the future after being cooped up for a year indoors feels almost poetic. Wilie and the Goodsouls are putting American rock to shame and, hey, more power to them — their next outing will only undoubtedly continue the trend, but there’s no predicting what a band as locked-in as Willie and the Goodsouls is capable of.
by Bethany Page