Woodrose have definitely made the most of their time in quarantine. The three-piece band met at Villanova University in their freshman dorm last fall and quickly started a band together, blissfully unaware of the tumult their second semester would bring. When COVID-19 sent them back home in March they had already started writing and practicing original tunes and did not want to stop the momentum they felt building. The three went back to their respective homes and started swapping files over the internet in the hopes of cobbling together a debut self-titled EP. One member would lay down an instrumental track and email over to another to record their vocal takes, emailing the track back and forth between the three members till the songs were completed. The young band thought of the EP as a fun project to keep their minds busy during the lockdown, starting the recording in March and releasing in May, but their self-titled EP ended up being good, like really good. It is easily the record GSC has covered that people give the most love to and is among the most played tapes of the year for everyone on staff. The band’s reverb heavy surf rock guitars paired perfectly with the two lead singers’ tender Morrissey inspired cooing, making for tracks that felt familiar the first time you listened. When they were recording their first EP Woodrose had hopes of being able to play it live this summer, but unfortunately COVID-19 had other plans. So after their first EP dropped in May the band got back into the studio (their respective homes) and got to recording and file swapping away their next EP, which they released last week, Woodrose++.
Woodrose++ builds off the successes of their self-titled EP as the band continues to develop their signature sound. Album opener “Peace of Mind” could not be better named, as Seamus Daniello’s tender crooning floats like a cloud over the shimmery guitars and bright synth line. Even when a heavier guitar reminiscent of “Devil in a New Dress” is dropped in to buoy the lighter riffing, it doesn’t rock the boat as much as push you along with some umph. It’s an absolutely beautiful song, every time I close my eyes listening to this track I fall into a dream-like trance. I said it on my review of their last EP but there is no band that recreates the feeling of drifting on a lazy river through a water park quite like Woodrose. “Peace of Mind” rolls right into “Zach’s Backyard” a jammier track that’d slot in nicely in any Labor Day BBQ playlist. It’s as relaxed as “Peace of Mind” while being a good deal less dreamy. The twin guitar approach works wonders for Woodrose on “Zach’s Backyard”, with the more grounded guitar balancing out the reverb heavy surf rock guitar perfectly. The addition of this second guitar is the most significant sonic development that is EP brings and it feels like it could be a major part of the band’s blueprint going forward.
Woodrose have become more confident in their music since their last EP and you can hear it clearly. The tracks on Woodrose++ are more refined, more focused, and tighter than their previous efforts. The band knew what they were doing before, but now they know they’re all pretty good at what they’re doing. Long gone are any awkward or unexpected transitions that left you imagining the gang putting the tracks together on GarageBand. These are well-mixed, professional sounding tracks that still hold onto their home recorded DIY charm. Moreover, Woodrose have a stronger sense of themselves and their sound on the ++ EP. These songs feel like a cool summer breeze on your front porch right as the sun is setting, the perfect temperature where you’re comfortable in whatever you’re wearing.
It’s a shame that Woodrose is spending this semester on Zoom and cannot play these tracks live around Philly. Then again part of the magic of these two EP’s is how Woodrose is able to transport you to their summery wonderland without even being physically together themselves. While I can’t wait to hear this band in person, fingers crossed before they graduate in 2023, hopefully this bizarre state of the world affords them the time to file swap away some more excellent music.