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The Year of Magical Drinking (Bonus Track Version)

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iTunes Review

Following the demise of the Broken West in 2009, Ross Flournoy and Brian Whelan moved on to form Apex Manor a year later, recruiting Adam Vine and Andy Creighton in the process. Since Flournoy is still the main songwriter there are some similarities between the two bands, yet Apex Manor sounds like a natural progression for Flournoy’s melding of melodic power-pop and roots rock. These 10 catchy and well-crafted tunes are delivered with style and grace by a band that has clearly gelled. Featuring a good mix of grit and polish, the songs are loose and jangly (“Southern Decline,” “Under the Gun,” “Coming To”), rollicking (“Teenage Blood”), winsome (“My My Mind,” “Holy Roller”), and gauzy and textured (“Burn Me Alive”). There’s an undercurrent of angst in the lyrics and overall sound, yet nothing heavy enough to suppress the charming, hook-filled goodness at the heart of the album.

Customer Reviews

A power-pop singer/songwriter recovers from a not-so-magical year

There’s something exciting happening in Los Angeles; singer/songwriters like Bleu and Adam Marsland are breaking out once again, but instead of rolling down from the communal experience of the canyon, they’re holing up in homes and hobby studios. Such was the inspiration for former Broken West guitarist/vocalist Ross Flournoy, whose relocation to Pasadena after a band breakup severed his daily musical connection, and left him casting about for direction. Amid writer’s block and a daily beer habit, his lifesaver was an NPR song competition that afforded only a weekend to write, record and submit a song. The external pressure turned out to be just what he needed, documenting his denial, admission, inventory, acceptance and recovery as a songwriter in “Under the Gun.” With one under his belt, dozens more tumbled forth, some written alone, some with Adam Vine.

Apex Minor on record – Flournoy and former bandmate Brian Whelan, along with help from Andy Creighton, Derek Brown, Rob Douglass and Dan Iead – is reminiscent of Broken West, similarly propulsive and tuneful, but warmer and looser. The album begins at Flournoy’s nadir, looking up from the bottom of a half-drunk mason jar in “Southern Decline.” Producer Dan Long layers on buzzing rhythm guitars, demonstrating just how deeply Flournoy was buried in depression. His salvation as a songwriter leads to emotional re-emergence, self-awareness and on “I Know These Waters Well,” the twelfth-step desire to pass along new found wisdom. The album alternates rave-ups and soulful ballads, with Flournoy’s voice particularly expressive on the latter. Despite the detour, Apex Manor marks a terrific new phase, predicted by the Broken West, but ignited by a fresh start. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]


Formed: 2009 in Pasadena, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

After the Broken West parted ways in 2009, frontman Ross Flournoy relocated to Pasadena and began battling a bad case of writer’s block. He eventually turned his attention to an online songwriting contest, which challenged participants to write, record, and upload a new song over the course of one weekend. Newly inspired, Flournoy came up with “Under the Gun” and began to piece together a new band, with former Broken West bandmate Brian Whelan climbing aboard as his right-hand man. More songs followed,...
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The Year of Magical Drinking (Bonus Track Version), Apex Manor
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