Review: The Family Crest – The Village

I’m really starting to realize the advantage of moving to San Francisco. The music scene there is exponentially more in motion than that of Salt Lake. We do have some good local artists, but I’m really starting to dig what I’m hearing out of the Bay Area.

Recently, I discussed the luscious sounds of Pomplamoose. Right up there in quality and amazement is The Family Crest–a 7-piece group that borders on classical folk rock. Employing the use of such instruments as the viola, violin, cello and flute, this band is poised to take college radio stations by storm. In NO way is that meant as a slight to their potential; indeed, if anything, it speaks volumes about the state of popular (read: canned, utterly un-original drivel that any typical top 40 or “alternative” station will spit out with their Musak-style “DJ”ing) radio music today. It would be one of my greatest musical joys to see these guys meteorically rise to the top of every applicable Billboard chart. Alas … these guys are so good and so original that I’m afraid that it simply won’t happen. Don’t ask me to tirade about the quality of the cookie-cutter tunes that stale the airwaves on any given day; to do so would be wasteful and futile.

Having said all that, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the 7 core members.

  • Liam McCormick handles vocals and guitar.
  • John Seeterlin plucks the bass.
  • Jacob Steuer beats the drums and other percussiveness.
  • Laura Bergmann graces us with her flautist skills, voice, and the occasional percussion.
  • Lucas Chen gently plays the cello.
  • Sarah Dabby plays the viola and provides the operatic vocals.
  • Owen SutterĀ  rounds out the core with his skills on the violin.

Again, these 7 constitute the core of The Family Crest. From here, the band further diversifies its sound by bringing in “extended family members.” This list is extensive, and it is lovely. Angelic choirs, various brass instruments, more string … they enjoy experimenting with different instruments and sounds. On a few of their songs, I heard either a cornet or a trumpet … not sure which. I hear a timpani on another track. A multitude of different instruments pervade each and every track on this CD, and they’re all beautiful and incredible.

So what are some of the stand-out tracks?

This is one review where I’m not going to isolate individual tracks because that implies that I prefer those over the other ones on the CD. While the vast majority of my reviews do precisely that–review three or four songs–this CD is so incredible that no one track is more worthy than another. Seriously … it’s that good. Instead, here are my thoughts on their music.

Every song is simply epic. I don’t mean that in the modern colloquialism that something is “insanely cool.” I mean it in the sense that every song is so deeply layered that there is simply no other way TO put it. I know that “epic” traditionally deals in length. To some degree, the epic scale applies here, but not across the horizontal plane. In this instance, the epic nature of these songs is due to their sheer layering and number of instruments played. There is a timeless feel to these songs that transcends decades and genres. You hear these, and there is simply no way to pin a time period on them. This isn’t like 80s synth pop or hair metal, or 90s grunge sound, or even 70s disco or classic rock. With those sounds, you can easily identify within at least a couple of years of when the song was released. No–with these tracks crafted and polished by The Family crest, you simply hear music that could have been plucked from a bygone time, or they could have been written 20 years from now. They’re limitless in their ability to spellbind your mind and captivate your attention. I’ve listened to this CD 5 times today already, and every time I hear something new on each and every song! That has never happened with any other CD I’ve ever owned.

If you live in the San Francisco area–or anywhere within 150 miles, or if you have the itch to take a road trip, make SF your destination and catch a Family Crest show. Let’s get them some attention so they can hopefully come to a town near you!

To my SF connection, I am forever in your debt for pointing out these guys and Pomplamoose. Thank you!

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