Holy hair! Let the locks flow and set the love free. Guards transported the sold-out crowd back a few decades with their earnest and cavorting set at Bottom of the Hill on Monday night.
Guards, the newish project from Richie James Follin, lead singer and guitarist of the garage rock band The Willowz, was formed after Follin returned from a European tour and headed to the studio with a busted 12-string guitar and an omnichord (essentially the robot version of an autoharp). The result was something more direct than his previous releases in other projects.
There is a timelessness to Guards’ nod to 60s rock, a necessity to their style that makes it hard not to be drawn to their sound. This was even more apparent at Bottom of the Hill as Follin took the stage backed by a full band. He completely owned the set. His raw talent was obvious from the start, rivaled only occasionally by the wicked proficiency of drummer Loren Shane Humphrey.
What stood out the most, aside from the uber ear-friendly songs, was the strength of Follin’s voice. It is hard to explain what makes it stand apart from other voices, however if a voice could be a relic, Follin’s should be kept in a glass box on the mantle. It is the kind of voice you want to listen to, is a pleasure to hear careening around a packed room, earnestly thanking the audience between songs before all five heads of long hair begin bobbing into the next number. It was like the best, most concise parts of My Morning Jacket mixed with the ease of The Morning Benders, minus the morning, jacket and bending. Guards put on a great show, were sincere throughout their performance and I imagine we will be seeing, and hearing, a lot from them in the coming year.
Listen to Resolution of One by Guards.