We live in a time where the orchestral, folksy indie acts are starting to shake up the music world. The Twilight cash cow had indie faves Bon Iver and Thom Yorke on its New Moon soundtrack. Acts like Sufjan Stevens and Arcade Fire are livening up movie trailers across the globe for moneymakers like Where the Wild Things Are and Little Miss Sunshine. Ears are opening, downloads are racing, the money is flowing in, and it’s only natural that we’ll see more bands of the like coming into the limelight.

Songbook, the debut album from Family of the Year, is very listenable. It’s got a lot of really catchy moments, pretty harmonies, and gorgeous acoustics to back up a big sound.

Let’s Go Down is a refreshing track somewhat reminiscent of an old Southern spiritual, brimming with a raw simplicity. Not to mention, it also shows that Family can make some fun little rifts by getting a little loud. Lyrically, too, the band has a lot to offer.

I Played Drums on This is a touching letter to a long-lost brother that tugs on the heart strings, with lines that give a glimpse into where the band is coming from: “My brother played me cool music/ So I threw out my old tapes/ My childhood stuff deep in the trash at my big brother’s place/Years ago he was my hero.” Other lyrics on songs like Treehouse are light and fun, easy to get into and enjoy.

Possibly the best of all is the folksy, sing-along Jamesy which closes out the album. Legend has it that the band recorded it late one night with a bunch of friends. The song brings back what the other Americana-type bands of the moment sometimes miss– a little youthful energy. I think it would have brought the music to a whole new level if Family had recorded every song in the same way. It definitely would have made the album more organic, which would have been a more original take on the genre.

Songbook is an upbeat, well-produced record of what come across as enthusiastic young musicians. The only thing I’d like to hear from their next album is a more original sound. Sometimes while listening to Songbook it was a little too easy to feel as though I was actually listening to other groups such as the above mentioned. Be that as it may, Family of the Year has put out a great debut album that’s definitely worth checking out.

Must Download: Jamesy, Intervention (Staple Jeans), Summer Girl

Most Likely to Get Airplay: Let’s Be Honest, Treehouse

Most Likely to End Up on a Soundtrack: Surprise, Stupidland, Let’s Go Down

Song to Cry to: I Played Drums on This

Band Potential for Greatness Factor (1 < 10): 8

Songs with meaningful lyrics that are put together well, but a sound that is too similar to what is currently out to be called original. Hopefully it will become more refined as their time together continues.

Kerry Sullivan and Keara Driscoll contributed to this review.

Read more about:

Leave a comment