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Move Into This Apex Manor

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 25, 2011 7:30PM

Photo by Chloe Aftel
We've heard NPR is turning into quite the juggernaut when it comes to promoting music, but now they're causing people to create bands too? The Broken West's Ross Flournoy entered an online songwriting contest sponsored by Carrie Brownstein's Monitor Mix blog for NPR and the end result was the driving guitar pop of "Under The Gun" and the formation of Apex Manor. His debut, The Year Of Magical Drinking fleshes out the skeleton laid by "Under The Gun" with nine other tunes ranging from fuzzy to friendly to simply delicate.

The album opens with the gradual build of "Southern Decline," opening with a simple strum and a weathered but sweet vocal line that gradually adds layer upon layer of piano, guitars and cymbal swells that increase the tension without ever cresting. In that song. Everything afterward is joyous waves of sunlight rippling through the aural equivalent of a Midwestern cornfield (which is odd since Flournoy lives in Pasadena). This sounds like simple power pop, but as any fan of power pop can tell you the trick is making it sound simple, and that ain't easy. Flournoy's bag of tricks is well stocked though and while there's nothing on The Year Of Magical Drinking that's unfamiliar it's all welcome. If you're a fan of early-era Wilco, hand clapping and sad times that sound like good times, you'll probably be a fan of Apex Manor.

MP3: Apex Manor "Under The Gun"

Apex Manor plays Monday, March 28, at Schubas, 3159 N Southport, 8 p.m., $10, 21+