Family and Friends
Love You Mean It
Released: 9 January 2014 (Self Released)
By Joe DeBonis
Athens, Georgia is a truly magical place when it comes to music. A city of barely 100,000, to have created Neutral Milk Hotel, Drive By Truckers, R.E.M., Of Montreal and the B52’s must mean there is some secret formula in the water that has produced such magical musicianship. Family Friends is yet another Athens band, with quite a bit less fanfare than the bands previously mentioned, but with talent that could one day get them thrown about with their Athens predecessors.
“Love You Mean It” is their debut release, five songs published through Bandcamp, that showcase a talent for blending folk and rock together into a beautiful kind of music that sounds of spring and sunshine. Family and Friends is an eight piece band, with instrumentation ranging from guitar to viola to violin to bass that merge easily into a very full sound, rounded out with strong drumming and percussion playing.
There is a very dreamy feel to the guitar playing and it fits well with the airy sound that the pitched vocals and strings combine to make. The sound Family and Friends is going for sounds so familiar but sitting down to actually pinpoint what they resemble sonically is a little more difficult. The band’s use of the heavy strings alone makes them stand out a little from other indie rock groups and the twang they sometimes incorporate into their sound also allows for a different sound to emerge as well. In the end, calling them a Bon Iver and Iron and Wine combo fused with a folky inflection and maybe a touch of Wu Lyf is the closest comparison worthy of their music.
Vocally, the band shares the duties between half the band, with four different members credited with singing on the release. The mixture of both female and male singing adds a dynamic to the group that makes the band feel both mature and young at the same time as the harmonies showcase their musical knowledge, but also the pure enjoyment this band has shows how new to the music game they really are. The songs are long, never under five minutes, and that allows a kind of jam rock feel to happen simply because it takes so long for the songs to develop. And develop they do, each song starts gently, delicately, and by the end there is normally crashing cymbals and heavy guitar, showcasing the ability to not only change tempos and genres within a song, but also the entire feel of the track.
Emotion is a very important part of any musical release, and it is clear from the get go this band has a lot of pent up feeling. The sounds are all passionate and fun loving, and any time the singing starts, it only increases the amount of joy there is. Family and Friends have a very steep hill to climb to try and jump into the ring with some of the bands that have made it from Athens, but they are well on their way to starting to cause ripples in what is the big pond of music.
Favorite Tracks: Rust and Bone, Family and Friends