Artist: Willamena
Album: Broken Songs
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Music Press Kit
Artist Name Willamena
Album Broken Songs
Style of Music Rock/Pop/Alt
Hometown Kalamazoo, MI, Tennessee, United States
Nationally-charting indie rock/pop/alt band reminiscent of U2, REM, Tom Petty, etc. Award-winning live show with critically-acclaimed releases
Influences Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen
Sounds Like U2, REM, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Willamena Band Bio

On July 19th, 2021, Willamena released “Broken Songs” which is the band's first full length album since “Lost in the Shadows” broke out with three nationally charting Triple A radio singles in 2013. "Broken Songs" is the follow up release to the critically-acclaimed 2017 "Strong Enough to Last"  EP which earned more charting Triple A radio success and additional national attention including write ups in Paste and other national music outlets.  “I Know Nothing” was Willamena’s first single from “Broken Songs” and it was added to radio stations across the country and featured in write ups from Skope Mag and other national outlets (see press clips below).  Willamena released “The Same Way” as the second single from "Broken Songs" in January 2022 and the newest single is grabbing national attention and adds across the country as well including early adds spins on Triple A radio stations like KROK, WVMP, WGSR, WYSO, Birch Street Radio and others.      

“Broken Songs” is Willamena’s seventh studio album with four full length albums and three EPs to their credit.  Over the last eight years seven Willamena singles charted nationally (FMQB AAA radio), including breaking the top 90, highlighting Willamena’s award-winning live show and critically acclaimed songs and song writing.      

Willamena is lead vocalist/guitarist/harmonica player Lucas/Luke Ross and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Chad Hendrickson.  Luke and Chad are the songwriters for Willamena.  Over the years Willamena grew into a collective of musicians and engineers who support the Willamena by adding their style/talents to the songs as Willamena records in the Nashville, TN area/Kalamazoo, MI and Minneapolis, Minnesota areas.    

Willamena partnered with Dr. Gene Foley at Foley Entertainment and Jeff Appleton at Marathon Entertainment to promote “Broken Songs” to print and Triple A radio everywhere.  “Broken Songs” is a reflection on Willamena’s unique folk/pop/rock brand including new studio material combined with live tracks and some lost Willamena studio tracks.  See what the critics say about Willamena and the new Willamena release “Broken Songs” below:

"References abound, but the sprawling epic works of Fleet Foxes come to mind, alongside anthemic greats like Bruce Springsteen and U2. By bringing all of this together (Willamena) creates a sound that touches the very heart of the matter..."

https://skopemag.com/2021/08/19/willamena-presents-new-music

"There's a reason why Willamena are still making great music for well over 20 years; they're fantastic songwriters, true artists and skilled entertainers who deserve your attention."

https://songmightsub.blogspot.com/2021/08/willamena-great-songs-from-great-lakes.html?fbclid=IwAR1Cyhmx0ilqpMrHYNQ9XNqWEPL5pnOJF9wSr761rD8jJtmTi7f0vNVEgos

"When you hear pure talent and hit songs, it's easy to listen again and say great things.  Please take the time to listen to Willamena.  These guys are providing us with great new music and keeping the art of songwriting alive."

https://indiestrong.com/f/willamena---broken-songs?

"Imagine if you will, the end of a long season and thinking back on what has been quite the adventure, you play this album...and turn it up and just sit back and think, enjoy, and find a message that speaks to you on a deeper level!"

http://www.contrastcontrol.net/review-willamena-broken-songs-a-compilation/

"Willamena has quite a unique sound, and it’s so refreshing to hear a song that is so exuberant and confident."

https://www.pleasepasstheindie.com/post/willamena-i-know-nothing

"Broken SongsA Compilation...is a strong return for the band"

https://philspicks.wordpress.com/tag/willamena/

Uplifting and Inspiring, this track is timely for a world that seems more focused on scandals and negativity, and a much needed respite from the darkness being thrown at us every day. But it's not just the lyrics that make this track so special; "When You Close Your Eyes" is both refreshingly new but comfortably reminiscent of the best of 80s and 90s college rock. - Paste Magazine

consistent high quality indie rock sound”  https://www.unsungmelody.com/pop/willamena-prove-theyre-strong-enough-last-ep/

the lyrics were incredible and definitely relatable and inspirational”  http://livealittlebitlouder.weebly.com/reviews/strong-enough-to-last-by-willamena-ep-review

“…one amazing, game-changing album…This album needs to be heard by as many people as possible.  https://concertcrap.com/album-review-willamena-strong-enough-to-last/?amp

“Equal parts 90s college rock and modern Indie…Strong Enough to Last, brings a fresh, uplifting tone at exactly the right moment.”  https://musicexistence.com/blog/2017/06/13/willamena-bring-laid-back-midwest-tone-to-rock-with-strong-enough-to-last/

Strong Enough To Last showcases why the veteran rockers have been making waves on alternative, adult alternative, and indie rock radio charts for years”https://www.ryze-up.com/music-2/willamena-releases-strong-enough-to-last-ep-lead-single-when-you-close-your-eyes-dominates-radio-and-billboard-in-advance-of-the-release/

Michigan’s Willamena, released their seventh studio album, Broken Songs, in July 2022.  Self-produced by members and Willamejna songwriiters Chad Hendrickson and Lucas RossBroken Songs has received glowing reviews from across the country:

"References abound, but the sprawling epic works of Fleet Foxes come to mind, alongside anthemic greats like Bruce Springsteen and U2. By bringing all of this together (Willamena) creates a sound that touches the very heart of the matter..."

https://skopemag.com/2021/08/19/willamena-presents-new-music

"There's a reason why Willamena are still making great music for well over 20 years; they're fantastic songwriters, true artists and skilled entertainers who deserve your attention."

https://songmightsub.blogspot.com/2021/08/willamena-great-songs-from-great-lakes.html?fbclid=IwAR1Cyhmx0ilqpMrHYNQ9XNqWEPL5pnOJF9wSr761rD8jJtmTi7f0vNVEgos

"When you hear pure talent and hit songs, it's easy to listen again and say great things.  Please take the time to listen to Willamena.  These guys are providing us with great new music and keeping the art of songwriting alive."

https://indiestrong.com/f/willamena---broken-songs?

"Imagine if you will, the end of a long season and thinking back on what has been quite the adventure, you play this album...and turn it up and just sit back and think, enjoy, and find a message that speaks to you on a deeper level!"

http://www.contrastcontrol.net/review-willamena-broken-songs-a-compilation/

"Willamena has quite a unique sound, and it’s so refreshing to hear a song that is so exuberant and confident."

https://www.pleasepasstheindie.com/post/willamena-i-know-nothing

"Broken SongsA Compilation...is a strong return for the band"

https://philspicks.wordpress.com/tag/willamena/

Willamena's earlier reviews have also been critically-acclaimed:

"... [T]his is one amazing, game-changing album... [It] needs to be heard by as many people as possible."  - Karen Shalev, ConcertCrap.com 9/4/17

"What happens when U2 meets Dave Matthews Band with a dash of Tom Petty and The Jazz Butcher? You get relatively obscure Kalamazoo, MI, Alternative Indie Rock Band Willamena
Relatively obscure is actually misleading, let's say blog anonymous, because these guys have been DOMINATING online radio airwaves for a while. With a history of Billboard charting releases, hundreds of thousands of mainstream-leaning AAA radio, as well as alternative, mainstream rock, Hot AC, and college station plays, and being named "the hardest-working band in Michigan…” (Carly PlankRevue Magazine 6/20/13), there is NO question that these guys are legit, and their newest single off of their upcoming, self-produced Strong Enough to Last EP, "When You Close Your Eyes," only highlights why they're loved where they're known. Uplifting and Inspiring, this track is timely for a world that seems more focused on scandals and negativity, and a much needed respite from the darkness being thrown at us every day. But it's not just the lyrics that make this track so special; "When You Close Your Eyes" is both refreshingly new but comfortably reminiscent of the best of 80s and 90s college rock. The track is already getting love from online radio, with rave reviews coming in daily, and is destined to join previous releases as a top charter, and we suggest NOT missing out." -- Tristan Alban, PASTE Magazine track premiere 5/25/17

"Michigan’s hardest working and tragically unknown rock band... Strong Enough To Last showcases why the Kalamazoo natives have been turning ears on alternative, adult alternative, and indie rock radio charts for years, and is a testament to their inspiring legacy of consistent high quality indie rock sound..."- Toni Grant, TheOneMagazine.com 6/15/17

“… Vocalist Lucas Ross is nothing short of brilliant and inspiring… his expressive tone and keen sense of melody is guaranteed to raise a few eyebrows…”  - Cody Place, ShockwaveMagazine.com 7/26/17

“… If there is one truth about Kalamazoo, MI Indie Rockers Willamena, it’s that they exemplify the legendary Midwest work ethic. Dubbed ‘Michigan’s Hardest Working Rock Band,’ and that’s saying something considering the state’s contributions… Strong Enough to Last… is showcase melding of such influences as Tom Petty, U2, and REM, but with a dose of that trademark Michigan can-do attitude.” - RockRevoltMagazine.com 6/15/17

“The EP had to be titled Strong Enough to Last if only because some producer took eight-plus months to never deliver the first one. He held our masters hostage to try and leverage more rights for himself. Bad move. We don’t roll over for scammers, and we never give up. So we saved our nickels and went out and recorded the whole thing all over again — better. Eventually he’ll hear it on the radio, and maybe drive right into the ditch? We wouldn’t want anybody hurt of course; but we’d pay money to acquire one of his set-off airbags.” – Willamena

“The EP title also reflects our history. We’ve been called ‘indie underdogs’ and ‘indie heroes’ and any number of ‘Rocky’ references over the years, and while I don’t know about ‘heroes,’ some of that’s factual. Basically every label A&R rep turned us down; most of them repeatedly. But we keep slugging along, and they keep getting fired. Now we’re earning more radio airplay than no small number of big-money acts can buy. From the single: ‘close your eyes and dream,’ right? And like we put in all our liner notes: ‘long live indie!'” – Chad Hendrickson, guitarist/co-songwriter

Willamena is a rarity — a nationally-charting genuine indie band. Advance single “When You Close Your Eyes (Radio Mix)” was on the radio even before the EP went to replication.  It debuted on the Billboard Spotify Viral 50 soon after, and it wound up spending eight weeks on the FMQB Triple A top-200 singles chart.  So all the arrows continue to point “up” for the award-winning #1 Kalamazoo rock act whose music has aired from Japan to Montana to Greece.

The band's fifth release, The Light Ahead hit the streets and the airwaves in January, 2015. Before the release date of “The Light Ahead” lead-off single, “The Other Side of Loneliness,” debuted at #5 on the Billboard AAA indicator most-added chart (1/17/15), started at #3 in AAA downloads and streams on radio-servicer PlayMPE.com (1/2/15), and jumped straight onto the FMQB AAA top-200 singles chart at #110 (1/20/15) – all without professional promotion or a publicist. “The Other Side…” peaked at #87 on the FMQB singles chart, stopped only by a lack of “promo” spending. The EP itself climbed directly to #1 on Amazon.com’s “Hot New Releases” Adult Alternative list (1/17/15) and cracked the top-100 on the FMQB AAA non-comm album chart. The follow-up single, “If This Is Love,” charted nationally as well, and third single “Way Back When” spun on over 200 radio stations world-wide. As RadioInfo.com observed, “… it’s definitely a marketable sound that makes for some hit triple-A playlists… and hot AC/AC stations that wait patiently for their turn …. We are keeping our ears on them. So should you.” (RadioInfo.com “pick of the week” 1/14/15).

But “The Light Ahead” was no flash in the pan. Willamena has been impressing programmers, critics and fans for years. The band’s 2013 CD Lost in the Shadows and its tracks charted nationally in six radio formats: Top 40, Hot AC, Triple A, Active RockAmericana, and College. At least 180 terrestrial stations in six countries aired something from “Lost…” not counting syndicated-show affiliates that pushed the total well over 300. Several critics predicted the success of “Lost in the Shadows” from the get-go:

“… [U]ndeniably infectious rock…” “… [T]he standout tracks… could do some serious damage on U.S. radio in 2013. And that means there are songs on this album you’ll likely be humming in your sleep.” John SinkevicsRevue Magazine and http://www.LocalSpins.com

“… [Lost… has] a very polished sound that suits their seemingly effortless radio-ready rock anthems perfectly… [It] should help… give them the national attention they… rightfully deserve.” – Justin Kreitzer

“Lost in the Shadows” followed 2004’s “Far From the Current.” “… Current” aired on then-emerging AAA stations from Seattle to Staten Island to satellite (XM Unsigned’s “most notable” and “most played” lists) on a near-zero budget and made its own mark in the music world:

“Willamena… turn the Northern superiority complex against itself with devastating results in ‘Rock-n-Roll.” Dave QueenVillage Voice 9/26/05 re: “… Current”

“I keep thinking, how could a band with this talent and sound not be on a big label… will these guys ever run out of hooks?” Bill Ribas, NYRock.com 3/5/2005 re: “… Current”

“…[P]op rock, in the vein of Matchbox 20Counting Crows, modern U2, etc… a familiar rock sound culled from decades past, [but] the sheer craftsmanship… in the music keeps [it] from coming across as a stale rehash… Comparisons aside, Lucas Ross is a great rock vocalist…” Alan MooreLoveLaborMusic.com 6/14/2005 re: “… Current”

But by the time “… Current” was released, what became the music industry’s (and Michigan’s) unprecedented decline was already underway. For one snapshot of the milieu, a story in the Grand Rapids Press about “… Current” was titled “Willamena revives music scene in Grand Rapids.” (Tricia WoolfendenGrand Rapids Press 2/5/04). Part of another writer’s review offers a clue, too:

“Perhaps the real risk for Willamena is writing a great album that no one will hear.” Nick StephensonRecoil, 2/04.

Simply put, after “… Current” came out, tough times got tougher. Willamena’s home base between the coasts and lack of industry connections (or cash) had always hampered the band; what turned out to be “the big crash” didn’t help. Neither did Napster, or NAFTA, or club closings, or slashed label rosters, or the cratered economy which scattered so many Michiganders, and the band, around the country seeking work. In mid-2009 the band went on a reluctant hiatus.

So despite winning the 142-band WBFX/Aris Hampers Rock Search in 2001… and despite making head-turning original rock like the 2002 CD Ghost of July which produced rave reviews like these:

“Willamena are the Derek Jeters of local music… Along with their kick-butt live shows… “Ghost of July” is putting these cats on the bus that says “Major League…” Buddah WorthmoreMusic Revue, 5/2002

“’Ghost of July’ could be the most solid release from a local band this year – a sonically-superior recording showcasing emotional performances and… gifted songwriting… highly recommended…” Recoil Magazine, 6/2002

… and despite headlining at premier clubs from Milwaukee to Manhattan and outdoor festivals, and opening for national acts like FishboneThe Why Store, and SR-71… and despite earning “… the reputation of being the hardest-working act in Michigan…” (The BuzzTheIndustryResource.com 12/22/04)… and despite maintaining the title of “… the hardest-working band in Michigan…” (Carly Plank, Revue Magazine 6/20/13) years later… Willamena remained unsigned and, largely, undiscovered.

Undiscovered, that is, until the rise of internet radio, and LPFM, and the Triple A radio format, and accessible technology that brought Willamena’s music out of obscurity. Beginning in 2011, world-class recording pros including Gravity Studios’ Doug McBride (Fall Out BoyRachael YamagataVeruca Salt), Grammy winner John Seymour (U2SantanaDave Matthews Band) and Grammy winner Cameron Webb (Kelly ClarksonSocial DistortionMotorhead) began to take an interest in the band, contributing their talents on various tracks (and on decidedly non-major-label budgets). Throughout 2012, ‘13, and ‘14 radio stations all over the U.S. and internationally-syndicated programs latched on to Willamena’s hook-filled songs, and the stage was set for 2015’s “The Light Ahead.”

Music fans around the world have been figuring out what the major labels have missed so far: Willamena has the goods. Strong Enough to Last is another collection of original, radio-ready Midwestern rock n’ roll, and it’s set to line the band up toe-to-toe with major-label acts on radio playlists around the globe.

“‘… Clearly, Lucas Ross is a great rock vocalist, and carries dynamics the way that Fred Neil did, and Rob Thomas and Bono still do…” KZHP Sacramento

“There is plenty to like here and these guys should really make a splash on the music scene… Expect great things from Willamena. They’ve got the chops to achieve them… 4.5 stars (out of 5).” – G.W. Hill re: “Lost in the Shadows”

“… Their music is ready made to fill arenas…” John VerburgWestMichiganIndie.com

Connect with Willamena:
Willamena Official
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOCSo0uyJBY