Woodrose are a very young band who met as freshmen at Villanova at the beginning of the fall semester. They had been playing a little around Philly before COVID cut their freshman year short and each of the three members was forced home. The band had a song or two written and did not want to let the pandemic stop the forward momentum the band was building, so they decided to try their hand at putting a debut EP together from their respective parents’ homes. Chris Cruz, Seamus Daniello, and Mike Loparrino spent the past six weeks writing song parts, recording instrumentals, emailing them to one another, and all in all doing their best to superglue together their debut self-titled EP. An on the fly process like this would usually lead to slap dash results but I was consistently impressed with how fully formed, well mixed, and self-contained these tracks were. The fellas clearly have a beachy lo-fi sound they’re going for and make sure to mess with their formulas enough on each track to keep the EP nice and varied while still having a cohesive sound. While the EP is not perfect, most observable flaws come off much more so as charming than detrimental. Once in a blue moon you’ll hear an instrumental part come in that feels like it is barging into the room rather than having been there the whole time, but it just conjures the image of one of them recording the part in Pittsburg and sending it down the information superhighway for another to download it and start layering it GarageBand in New Jersey.
The first song Woodrose wrote as a band was album opener Holding on to You. Lead singer Seamus Daniello starts the song whispering through the fidelity loss in a light falsetto that leaves him sounding like the ghost of Perry Cuomo over a fuzzy guitar riff as the song builds toward the gang vocals of the chorus. Its bright, its breezy, and it’s easy to see why they left it inspired to try and fill out an EP. Like many young bands Woodrose wear their influences on their sleeves but are deft enough to layer several of them in the same song to make tracks that sound familiar the first time you hear them. On Holding on to You the Mac Demarco guitar and Smiths vocals make for a stellar combination. The track feels like you’re floating down a lazy river with Woodrose’s rhythm slowly pushing you downstream. As far as college bands of Woodrose is definitely more of the coffee shop variety than the kind of band holding down a kegger, but Villanova doesn’t party anyway so they’re at the perfect school for this sound. While all six tracks sound like they would kill at every coffee shop in Philly, the other standout track that really impressed me was Amber. All the gang needs is a light acoustic guitar strumming along as Seamus mewls through the fidelity, this time sounding like a young unassuming Jeff Buckley. It’s simple, haunting, and beautiful. There isn’t much to the track and there doesn’t need to be, it recreates the feeling of lying out on a picnic blanket looking up to the clouds.
Given that this EP was assembled on the fly in a month and was done between three fellas swapping mp3 files through @villanova.edu emails I’d have to imagine that this self-titled EP beat even the band member’s wildest expectations. The three fellas know what they’re good at, do it well, and don’t fuck around with anything unnecessary. The band still needs to work toward finding their voice and defining their sound so they can stop being an amalgamation of their influences but again, they’re freshman in college. They have plenty of time to figure that out and are doing enough of the other stuff right to make this tape a worthwhile listen. This is an EP that will have every barista in Philly snapping whenever Woodrose is allowed back on campus, and one that leaves me excited to see what tunes they come up with sophomore year.