Apex Manor: The Year of Magical Drinking

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]

MP3 | Under the Gun
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