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Los Angeles folk pop band Family of the Year appeared on our radar in December, thanks to a friend who turned us on to their brilliant, and addictive, 2009 release, Songbook.

The LP is one of those albums that you find yourself loving more and more with each spin, and that you go back to again and again. The band is now one of our favorite new bands, and definitely a band to watch in 2010.

Family of the Year, who hail from LA's Silverlake area, a hilly region east of Hollywood, are not completely unknown in the world of music. They played four shows at New York's CMJ last fall, and toured the U.S. in a RV that they lovingly call Rosie. But it was the release of Songbook that really put them into a new category of prominence.

Moreover, last September, conductor Keith Lockhart, and singer-songwriter Ben Folds, selected the LA folk pop band out of more than 650 applicants to open for Ben Folds’ performance with the Boston Pops on Friday, on October 2, 2009, at Symphony Hall in Boston.

"Let's Go Down" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

There is some relevance to the band's name - it started as a project of brothers Joe Keefe (guitar and vocals) and Sebastian Keefe (drums and guitar), and Jamesy Buckey (guitar and engineer). The brothers, who grew up in Wales, first gained recognition on the local scene as part of the Martha’s Vineyard-based raw rock ensemble Unbusted. Not long after, they were featured in the Edgefest Cafe's broadcast on June 21 and 22, 2006, prior to the Boston Pops performances with My Morning Jacket.

Family of the Year's assemble expanded with the addition of singer Vanessa Long, an Orange County, California native, and actor, whose feature films include XII, I’m On Fire, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Keyboardist Christina Schroeter, also from Orange County, is an entertainment public relations professional, and bassist Brent Freaney, hails from Long Beach, Mississippi. Contributing members include musicians Meredith Sheldon and Farley Glavin.

Family of the Year's original name was Bogie Ogreton, but, at the urging of friends, family and their manager, they changed their name. Sebastian Keefe recently told Blast Magazine about the name change.

"(Family of the Year) was nice-sounding, and we kind of evolved into a family, the six of us," Keefe explained. "We all live together in the same house and we all travel together … so it was kind of fitting."

Keefe said the band's main influences - which are apparent listening to Songbook - are The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac, Crosy, Stills, Nash and Young, and Bob Dylan.

"Feel Good Track Of Rosemead" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

Mixing upbeat rhythms, sunny folk ballads, rich melodies, uplifting choruses, sweet pop harmonies, impressive story-telling, and even some dance beats, it's no wonder Family of the Year were chosen to open for Ben Folds and the Boston Pops.

Because there are so many memorable, 'keeper' tracks on Songbook, it was quite a challenge to pick a few songs that stand out the most. We suspect that fans of the band who have listened to Songbook multiple times (and it's hard not to), face the same dilemma if asked to choose two or three favorite songs from the LP. Other standout tracks - and most songs on the LP are - include "Surprise," "No Good at Nothing," "Stupidland," and "Let's Be Honest."

Family of the Year are selling their debut LP using the Radiohead model - basically name your price (minimum of $1). The CD version is $15 via their record label, Washashore Records.

The band is performing tonight, February 1st, at the legendary Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles.

"Summer Girl" - Family of the Year from Songbook (2009)

Family of the Year on MySpace

Family of the Year on FaceBook

Family of the Year on Twitter

Here's a great interview with Sebastian from the blog, In Your Speakers.

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   February 1, 2010    1 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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The members of Grizzly Bear are fans. And so are we.

area band Elephantom, a musical collective of high school and college aged musicians, are IRC's first unsigned 'band to watch' of 2010. Plus, we have an exclusive new demo, "I Am Your Head," provided by the band to IRC for all to hear.

But first, the back story.

Comparing them to the Danish band Efterklang, Grizzly Bear members recently endorsed Elephantom's 2009 DIY debut LP, Swim. Toward the Sun. While the band were attending a Grizzly Bear show in Vancouver last year, Elephantom guitarist, trumpet player and vocalist Sam Pearce tossed a CD copy of Swim. Toward The Sun. on to the stage.

He, along with his band mates, never thought that one of indie rock's biggest bands of 2009 would listen to the CD, let alone send Elephantom an email praising their music and wishing them success.

For any band that knows why Grizzly Bear is such a hit nowadays - largely due to their critically acclaimed 2009 release, Vecktimest - a thumbs up from GB is an enormous endorsement, and is likely to get bloggers, music sites, and most importantly, indie fans, to take notice.


According to keyboardist and vocalist, Matt Aucoin, Grizzly Bear's email hailed the Elephantom album as "really lovely," adding, "we are in Vancouver all listening...thanks so much for sharing this with us. I hope you guys go far."

The band features Pearce, Aucoin, bassist and guitarist Mike Cotter, guitarist and vocalist Trudie Kaiser, drummer and guitarist Nick Pope (who designed the album cover above), and lead guitarist, bassist and drummer Zach Trahan. All six of the band members are songwriters and multi-instrumentalists.

With Swim. Towards The Sun, Elephantom have created a breath-taking, rich, beautifully composed and produced album, full of spacious orchestrations, academic-style song titles and themes, spot-on vocals and harmonies, and oozing with a musical maturity that hints at a band that is headed for bigger and better things. They exhibit an enthusiasm and natural ability to sculpt songs that combine story-telling with elements of indie rock, jazz, cabaret, classical, folk, synth pop, psychedelic rock and so on.

In response to one of our questions, the band cited their major influences as Radiohead, Broken Social Scene and The Arcade Fire. Nevertheless, Elephantom have created their own original sound that really cannot be compared to anything else we've heard. There's so much happening on this album - and the diversity of songs is so profound - that you may find yourself going back to listen to it again and again, and each time, likely discover new and fantastic things in the process.

Listening to the track "Aurora Surrealis," you can close your eyes and imagine drifting away on a cloud on a glorious summer day, lifted by soft piano keys, French horns and the gorgeous vocals of Trudie Kaiser. "Citizen of the Earth" begins theatrically, and then eases into a seductive and sensual cinematic-cabaret swagger, interrupted by big blasts of sounds like some kind of cosmic orgasm.

We are excited to share a blog exclusive with you all - a demo version of Elephantom's newest track, "I Am Your Head," which Aucoin hopes will be on the band's next album, even though a release date and title for the follow up to Swim have yet to be determined.

If all the right pieces falls into place, you are likely to hear a lot more about Elephantom in 2010.

"I Am Your Head" (demo) - Elephantom, from Nick Pope's solo album St. Deviations Attack on The Castle Of Love, and planned for release on the band's upcoming album (date and title TBD)

"Aurora Surrealis" - Elephantom from Swim. Toward the Sun. (2009)

"Citizen of the Earth" - Elephantom from Swim. Toward the Sun. (2009)

Here's a YouTube video of a recent live performance of "I Am Your Head," which created so much excitement among music listeners on Indie Bands Blog, that Elephantom were voted the top band of the week this past weekend.

Elephantom on MySpace

Elephantom official website

Download Swim. Towards the Sun. for free

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   January 24, 2010    2 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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hostathebandThere are still plenty of fantastic songs and albums from 2009 that we're catching up to, and we suspect that will extend into the first couple of months of the rapidly approaching 2010. Wow, it's almost a new decade; let's hope it is a better one than the 2000s - for everyone. You might want to check back daily over the next few weeks - not only do we have barrels of great 2009 music you probably have never heard in the pipeline, but also additional alternative and indie Christmas songs; best songs and best albums year end lists and lots more.

This week's Band of the Week is Hosta, a folk rock band from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Admittedly, it took us a while to get around to featuring this band; the more we have listened to their self-titled debut over the past half year, the more it has proven itself as one of the best under-the-radar debuts of the year. It's baffling that the rest of the blogosphere, if you will, missed out on what is a fantastic album from start to finish.

Hosta is a trio of musicians: Iris Shepard (bass/vocals), Greg Moore (guitar/keyboards/vocals) and Randy Kehne (drums). The genre-bending band mix blues, ska, folk and experimental rock to create fun and interesting songs with likely comparisons to Weezer (and to some extent Pavement; hear "Hope You're Not Sorry"), which is especially evident on the geo-centric song, "Cali," and the quirky, ska-infused, "Secret Self."

Greg Moore
Band member Greg Moore is also a Fayetteville artist

While the band primarily tours in the Midwest, we hope they will come out to Cali (actually, someone easily gives themselves away as a newcomer when they call California 'Cali,' sort of the same idea as calling New York, "The Big Apple," or D.C., "Washington, DC"). Hosta were awarded the Northwest Arkansas Music Award in the category "Best None of the Above" this year. We strongly recommend getting the entire LP if you like the songs featured below.

"Cali" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

"Secret Self" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

"Hope You're Not Sorry" - Hosta from s/t debut (2009)

Hosta on MySpace

Coming Up: More alternative Christmas songs; a new installment of the Singer/Songwriter Spotlight Series; In Dee Mail Special Year End Edition, Vol. II and much more.

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   December 10, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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avi buffalo mp3sEighteen-year-old Long Beach, Calif., guitarist and singer/songwriter Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, and his band, Avi Buffalo, have created quite a buzz within the indie music circles during the past year with their impressive folky pop hooks, intriguing lyrics and live shows. So it was no surprise to some when Seattle's legendary Sub Pop Records - home of popular indie artists like Band of Horses, The Shins, Iron and Wine, Grand Archives and Blitzen Trapper - signed Avi Buffalo to a record deal last month.

With Isenberg at the helm, Avi Buffalo, consisting of Sheridan Riley (drums), Arin Fazio (bass) and Rebecca Coleman (keyboards and vocals), are now under the wings of one of the finest indie record labels in the business.

Tonight, Nov. 2nd, Avi Buffalo will open for the wildly popular Vampire Weekend in a sold out show at the Art Theatre in Long Beach - clearly an indication of Avi's rising star status within the indie music scene.

Things started to roll for the band after a couple of well received live performances in 2007 and 2008 led to a meeting with musician and producer Aaron Embry. Before long, Embry - who has worked with musicians like Elliott Smith, Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris - was recording Avi Buffalo's material.

The result of this collaboration is evident on the band's label debut 7", due out next month via Sub Pop. The A-side track, "What's In It For?", is a jangly guitar driven song with a southern rock twang, and rounded out with well crafted, melodic hooks, Isenberg's high pitched and quirky vocals (think Wayne Coyne meets Daniel Johnston), and uplifting back-up choruses.

"What's In It For?" - Avi Buffalo from What's in It For? 7" (2009)

Isenberg begin recording home demos in 2006 when he was just a sophomore in high school (most of the band members recently graduated from high school; Riley is still a senior), and as recently as this past spring, he was mixing the demos using Macbook Pro Tools and SM58/57. In August, the band independently released five songs via their Bandcamp page, allowing fans to decide how much they would pay for each track.

One of those tracks, "We Can't Try This Again," is a lazy, lo-fi acoustic strummer, featuring the following lyrics: no one ever said we can't try this again/brought it so high, brought me so high/spent too much time in there/don't know just what you saw. The translation is, perhaps, typical teenage disillusionment with the highs and lows of young love. Near the end of the song, a brief, but edgy, guitar riff shatters the dreamy soundscape, and closes with a chorus of whistling.

"We Can't Try This Again" - Avi Buffalo

If you like what you hear, you can purchase ($1 minimum) more tracks from the band, including "Distaste and Interest", Avi Buffalo's first song - written and recorded by Isenberg (when his moniker was Avi Buffalo before it became the band name) when he was only in the 10th grade.

It's possible that some of these songs will make it on the track listing for the band's debut full-length album, planned for release in spring of 2010. Avi Buffalo lists musical influences such as Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, Wilco, Panda Bear and Grizzly Bear. Isenberg recently told BeatCrave: "As much as I’d love to say we’re not pop, we’ve got some poppy stuff going on. I like the way hooks sound, and I like the idea of infiltrating minds with catchy stuff."

We are looking forward to seeing Avi Buffalo open for the Grand Archives on Nov. 12th in Santa Cruz, Calif. In our review of the show, we will published more tracks from Avi Buffalo, including a couple of hard-to-find songs. In the meantime, listen to more songs on the band's MySpace page.

Check out a HD quality video of Isenberg discussing his music, with studio out-takes, plus a video of the 7" B-side track, "Jessica" and a live recording of the song "Remember Last Time".

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   November 2, 2009    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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The Weakerthans, a Canadian indie band from Winnipeg, put themselves on the music map back in the late 1990's, and have been impressing critics and fans with subsequent, yet limited, releases ever since.

The band's latest album,
Reunion Tour, released last fall, has received wide praise by the music press, bloggers and fans, making many top album lists for 2007.

Comprising an exciting mix of punk revival and melodic indie rock,
Paste magazine hailed Reunion Tour as a collection of "songs of brutal beauty, little rock n roll vignettes that perfectly capture the malaise of the peculiar, disorienting times in which we live."

Here is the hit single music video "Civil Twilight" from The Weakerthans'
Reunion Tour CD:

Propagandhi member John K. Samson left his former band and joined Red Fisher drummer Jason Tait and bassist John Sutton to create The Weakerthans in 1997. Later guitarist Steve Carroll and bassist Greg Smith joined the lineup.

The band, especially founder, John Samson, doesn't just record and play music; they are actively involved in promoting the fight against poverty and advocating for environmental conservation. Samson's 'day job' includes his publishing company,
Arbeiter Ring Publishing.

Reunion Tour was, in a sense, aptly named since the band's last release before that, Reconstruction Site, was issued back in 2003 on Epitaph Records.

MP3: The Weakerthans - "Plea From A Cat Named Virtue" from Reconstruction Site

MP3: The Weakerthans - "Aside" from Last and Leaving

You can listen to and download more music, plus watch various music videos, from The Weakerthans on their official web site. Also, check out The Weakerthan's MySpace page and Facebook profile to social network with the band, get tour information, connect with fans and stream songs.

The Weakerthans were the first band in the CBC Radio 3's R3-30 chart history to hit the No. 1 spot with two different songs in the same year - a cover of Rheostatics "Bad Time to Be Poor" during the week of June 21, 2007, followed up in November 2007 by another No. 1 song, "Civil Twilight", their hit single from Reunion Tour.

The band released their debut album, Fallow, to wide praise from music critics and fans in 1998, on the indie label cooperative, G7& Welcoming Records. In 2000, The Weakerthans issued their sophomore record Left and Leaving, followed a year later by the EP Watermark.

Left and Leaving was eventually named one of the ten best Canadian albums of all time in a
Chart magazine readers' poll last year. Epitaph re-released Fallow and Left and Leaving in Canada on November 6, 2007.


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   May 4, 2008    0 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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