there’s nothing like forgetting who you are when you’re four fingers deep in a mason jar

So, what happens when you have a band (The Broken West), it breaks up, you move to the suburbs (Pasadena), your car breaks down, you’re stuck both literally and creatively, and your days largely consist of porch-sitting and tallboy-drinking? You enter NPR’s songwriting contest, clearly.

With lyrics tackling the songwriting process itself, Ross Flournoy penned “Under the Gun”, a headstrong march through his creative lockup that cleared the way for what became Apex Manor and The Year of Magical Drinking. The final result is a meld of indie pop and 90s alt-radio rock, written in collaboration with Adam Vine and rounded out by Brian Whelan and Andy Creighton.

The Year of Magical Drinking is cohesive and arranged well, but features a diversity of sound: the crunchy guitar of “Southern Decline” opposes the wheels-on-rails propulsion of “Holy Roller”; the aggressively poppy “Teenage Blood” and cut-and-shimmy melody of “Elemental Ways of Speaking” temper the bare-bones instrumentals that showcase the super-sexy vocal delivery of “My My Mind”. The one rogue piece to the puzzle is “Burn Me Alive” – while still likable, it becomes increasingly clear over the course of the song that sum is lesser than its parts. One place Apex Manor doesn’t falter, though, is the lyrics. While never revelatory, they have a certain way of hitting the ear that warrants paying attention.

The Year of Magical Drinking drops 01/25/11.
Download their mp3 “Under the Gun“.

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