Remember in That Thing You Do when the one-hit Wonders dress up like sailors for their Hollywood debut? As guitarist Lenny Haise says, “We’re not The Wonders right now, we’re Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters.” Well, the video for Californian outfit Family of the Year’s beachy “St. Croix” (“You bring the ocean/ I’ll bring the motion”) is straight out of that scene. Instead of being poor sports like The Wonders’ resident diva, however, frontman Joseph Keefe said of the finished product, “It’s probably the goofiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” apparently having a blast as per usual.
Considering Loma Vista also features songs about late-night parties that turn into early-morning adventures (“The Stairs”); getting buried with your guitar in a T-shirt and Chucks (“Buried”); and refusing to let trouble interfere with your plans (“Diversity”), a goofy music video about guitarist and singer James Buckey’s trip to the Caribbean seems pretty typical. The sentiment continues in “Living On Love” with a poppy, electronic harmony a la their friends, Grouplove, about “living with no complications”.
That’s not to say Loma Vista suffers from lack of substance: The LA-based band tackles emotional subjects for the Thought Catalog generation on acoustic “Hero”, when Keefe channels Joshua Radin as he sings, “Baby needs some protection/ But I’m a kid like everyone else.” While cryptic lyrics and avant-garde musicianship might be absent here, it’s comforting to hear a twentysomething nail the feeling of homesickness when he sings, “It’s been so long since I’ve been home/ And I don’t care if I ever get there/ I just want to see you all again” on “Hey Ma”.
The obvious shortage of Christina Schroeter’s just-had-a-cigarette vocals digresses the most from Family of the Year’s earlier work. As their friends and tour mates in Grouplove skyrocket to popularity, perhaps the band is just carving unique space for itself without their equivalent of Hannah Hooper howling at the forefront. But with Keefe’s impeccable, calming voice elevating tracks like “Everytime”, accompanied by an echoing kick drum and tambourine, it seems Family of the Year’s fun-drenched formula is working just fine.
Essential Tracks: “St. Croix”, “Everytime”