Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Merge
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Power Pop
Apex Manor main man Ross Flournoy apparently spent much of 2009 in a state of idyllic inactivity, “staring at the San Gabriel Mountains,” he told his label, and “sitting on the porch… splitting tallboys with the gardeners who worked nearby.” Cushy, maybe, but also dangerous, the sort of game plan (or lack thereof) that for most people could end in alcoholism or debilitating sadness. For Flournoy, though, it ended in The Year Of Magical Drinking, a powerfully uncomplicated rock album. Apex Manor is Flournoy, Brian Whelan, Adam Vine and Andy Creighton.
The Broken West broke up in 2009, the five members quietly going their separate ways without even bothering to update the band’s MySpace page. Compared to Oasis’ own split, which became headline news that summer, the Broken West’s collapse was a quiet affair, with many fans not even realizing the band had disintegrated. The Year of Magical Drinking may be the final nail in the Broken West’s coffin -- a sign that frontman Ross Flournoy and multi-instrumentalist Brian Whelan have officially moved on -- but it also celebrates the same mix of power pop and untidy rock & roll, which makes Apex Manor sound like a slightly older, slightly messier, but altogether similar incarnation of the band that spawned them.
Anyone who caught the Broken West live just before they broke up in late 2009 knows that they were at the height of their powers. After releasing two solid yet sweetly slick pop records for Merge—2007’s I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On and 2008’s Now or Heaven—they had translated them live to a bunch sweaty, rollicking rock songs. In the wake of that band’s break-up, Ross Flournoy has moved on to his new project Apex Manor, and on The Year of Magical Drinking he has found a new burst of energy, and a fiery set of songs.
To call Apex Manor’s first release a debut is a bit misleading. Frontman Ross Flournoy was the front man of The Broken West until they split up in 2009, and this new band finds him back together with another Broken West-er, Brian Whelan, as well as Adam Vine, also a collaborator from that era. With this history and the general sound of the album, one should be forgiven for thinking of Apex Manor as a new phase of that earlier enterprise.