With musical trends changing so often, it must be tough to be an up-and-coming band these days. When an artist gets signed and heads into the studio, there's a possibility that their chosen "style" of music will have become passé by the time the album reaches the shops (there's a reason why passing musical fads are referred to as "flavors of the week"). While this has been a common occurrence in the music business for decades, nobody seems to learn anything from the process, and music fans are left to wade through thousands of releases per month in search of something that they can connect with. Hopefully, with enough attention, those in search of a musical breath of fresh air will discover Loma Vista, the sophomore full-length from Los Angeles-based quartet. Formed by singer/songwriter Joe Keefe and his brother Sebastian on drums, Family of the Year also features James Buckey, who played with the Keefe brothers in the Boston-based Unbusted during alt-rock's heyday in the ‘90s. While other musicians have come and gone, the Keefe brothers and Buckey have remained the core of FOTY since forming in 2009. Keyboardist/vocalist Christina Schroeter soon joined, adding even more depth to their expanding sound. The perfect blend of modern and classic, Loma Vista is an album with a unique vision that captures the spirit of modern alt-rock (with all the trimmings) yet is rooted in classic pop songwriting. It is an album that is honest, earnest, and entirely unpretentious. On the surface, the album is a joyful excursion into acoustic-based alt-rock with touches of Fleet Foxes (the vocal harmonies), Mumford and Sons (their eccentric earthiness), and the Shins (the varied and non-formulaic pop songwriting). But if you peel away the layers and look below the surface, you'll find a sophisticated band heavily influenced by James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and other singer/songwriters who helped define a generation 35-40 years ago. Throw in the experimentation of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk period and you've got Loma Vista. The joyful, gospel-like vibes of tracks like "St. Croix," "Buried," and "In the End" may be the most immediate songs on the album, but by the second and third spin, the rest of the disc takes root in your brain and begins to offer something new with each listen. "Diversity" and "Living on Love" add a harder electric edge to their acoustic-based formula without sacrificing any of their charm. "The Stairs," "Hey Ma," and "Find It" are more atmospheric, while the gentle and lovely "Hero" stands out as the album's centerpiece. As the music industry goes through its constant evolution, and the trend-hopping bands crank out their slices of audio bubblegum, it's nice to know that there are artists who are still interested in making timeless music. And it's nice to know that Loma Vista is an album that will still sound fresh years down the line.
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AllMusic Review by Steve "Spaz" Schnee