FAMILY OF THE YEAR performs the song "HERO" for BalconyTV.
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PRESENTED BY NATALIE MOSER
Most bands function like a family, seeing how touring, writing, and studio time force them to share a lot of small spaces for extended periods of time. But Family of the Year has taken that familial feeling a step further. The members of the Los Angeles outfit have formed unbreakable bonds amongst themselves that come from cohabitating in a run-down house and relying on each other for inspiration and support, which has led to the kind of camaraderie that allows members to finish each other's sentences. It also doesn't hurt that frontman Joe Keefe and drummer Sebastian Keefe are real-life siblings.
Family of the Year's story began in 2009, when Joe assembled a band around an album, Songbook, that he completed while decompressing from a five-year stint with Unbusted, the alt-rock trio he started in Boston with Sebastian. In addition to Songbook, the band has issued a pair of EPs on its own Washashore Records imprint -- 2009's Where's The Sun, 2010's Through The Trees -- in addition to last year's 2011's St. Croix. Songs from all four discs have made their way onto various international releases. Media attention has come from various corners of the world, including heavy rotation on French radio as well as glowing reviews from NME, BBC, IFC, Rolling Stone and Spin.
The list of artists that FOTY has played with over the years is notable, including Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (who took the band on tour early in its career), Mumford & Sons, Gomez, Good Old War, Belle Brigade and The Antlers, and arguably the most impressive opening gig so far was warming up a Ben Folds performance with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Proving its versatility, the Family has made fans of a couple of fellow Massachusetts-bred musicians who, on the surface at least, don't have much in common: singer-songwriter Willy Mason and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. Mason contributed to the reggae-tinged "The Princess And The Pea" on Through The Trees, while the demon of screamin' discovered Family of the Year through a mutual connection and compared what he heard to "The Mamas And The Papas on acid." Interestingly enough, the Keefe brothers used to live next to the apartment in Boston that once housed Aerosmith.
"I don't think Steven Tyler is getting a tattoo anytime soon, but he likes our music," says Sebastian. "We had the opportunity to meet him once, and he was really cool."
But a band is only as good as its most recent output, which is why it's fair to say that Family of the Year has positioned itself for greatness. Recorded by what now constitutes the core of FOTY—Joe (vocals, guitar), Sebastian (drums, vocals), Buckey (guitar, vocals), and Christina Schroeter (keyboards, vocals)—the group completed 14 songs with producer Wally Gagel at his new studio in Hollywood, 10 of which made it onto Loma Vista. This is the first time that the band has worked with a producer and gone outside their own camp to release their music.
As a collection, the album is a lively slice of indie, dance- and psych-rock. Most songs highlight the perennial backdrop of California sunbeams -- "St. Croix" is a dreamy tune about "a boy from Florida / took a trip to the Caribbean ... he came to get over her," (and yes, it's about Jamesy), the strummy, 5-part harmonic "Stairs" and propulsive keyboard-laden "Diversity" are lovely servings of the band's signature exuberance. But, don't be misguided in thinking the band is only about cheerful, jangly tunes. Family Of The Year opens the album up to down-tempo tracks that ache a little and leave sepia-filtered images in your mind -- e.g. "Hero" and "Hey Ma."
And Family of the Year's future is clearly a bright one. Playing every show like it's a special occasional and writing each song with complete conviction has allowed the band to accomplish everything it has set its sights on. As "Living On Love" notes, "they say that you can't get every little thing that you want ... it's such a lie."
Support Shows in Germany
Phoenix, Support: Haim, Family of the Year
18.11.2013 - Neu-Isenburg / Hugenottenhalle
19.11.2013 - Munich / Zenith
21.11.2013 - Berlin / Columbiahalle
22.11.2013 - Düsseldorf / Mitsubishi Electric Halle
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