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, and not just with its moniker. 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.
Not surprisingly, many of the group’s songs feature numerous voices, and more than a few include a chorus of joyous handclaps. Some even sound like they should be sung by the tight-knit group around the campfire while the s’mores are melting and the wine is flowing, especially the ones that name-drop members of the band. Guitarist Jamesy Buckey, in particular, has received the lion’s share of shout-outs in FOTY songs, to the point where it’s become a Family tradition.
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 that gained some notoriety for its inclusion on the soundtrack to the Farrelly brothers’ film Stuck On You. Instead of relying on the distortion of his past, suddenly pianos, horns, acoustic guitars, and other assorted instrumentation were being used to display a more sophisticated—yet equally as playful—indie-rock sound that brings to mind classic pop bands like The Smiths, The Byrds, Fleetwood Mac, and The Go-Betweens.
To say that Family of the Year has accomplished a lot in a short amount of time would be an understatement. In addition to Songbook, the band has issued a pair of EPs on its own Washashore Records imprint, 2009’s Where’s The Sun and 2010’s Through The Trees, and songs from all three 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, the BBC, and Spin.
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.
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, ten 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.
Also catch them at Botton of the Hill on February 28th as part of the Noise Pop music festival.
Tomorrow, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM