Ones to Watch Presents
Family of the Year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
1308 4th Street SE
Minneapolis, MN, 55414
Doors 5:30 PM / Show 6:30 PM
This event is all ages
The members of Adelaide, Australia's Atlas Genius do things a little differently... They set about building a studio where they could write and record music for their newly formed band 3 years before they even played their first live show as Atlas Genius. For two years, they devoted their days to constructing their dream studio and spent their nights performing songs by The Police, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones at local pubs to pay the bills. "We really got down and dirty with dry walling and literally laying the floorboards, and at the same time we were taking a couple of days a week to focus on writing songs," recalls Keith Jeffery, Atlas Genius's vocalist/guitarist. "We had a lot of song ideas and it was important to us to have our own studio where we could experiment and hone in on our sound," adds brother and drummer, Michael Jeffery. The studio was designed and outfitted by the brothers with the help of their father (who comes from a music and engineering background). Once the studio was complete, the first song that Atlas Genius finished was a song called "Trojans," which they wrote, recorded and produced in collaboration with their friend, keyboardist Darren Sell. After many weeks tweaking the song, Michael insisted that the song was ready to be heard outside of the studio walls. Within an hour, "Trojans" was on the Triple J Unearthed Website, SoundCloud, and for sale via TuneCore on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify worldwide.
"We had begun to think that music was a pipedream and we had all gone back to university to pursue more realistic careers," says Keith. "We'd had such a long slog of playing late nights and working all day, and it felt like we didn't really have anything to show for it." But then, in the midst of cramming for their Fall 2011 semester final exams, Neon Gold discovered "Trojans" on the Triple J Unearthed Website and wrote a post praising "Trojans" as a song sure to "invade your head, all dressed up in a clever disguise of earnest vocals riding a hooky riff." Checking the band's email account for the first time in over a month, the band found that dozens of record labels, publishers, lawyers, booking agents and management companies from all over the world had contacted them.
"We were trying to focus on school, but it was just impossible," recalls Keith. "So we said, 'There's something going on here. Let's get back to the music.'" The band added manager, Jonny Kaps from +1, to their extended family to navigate all of the interest as the band focused on writing and recording more songs.
Quickly named an iTunes Single of the Week in Australia and New Zealand, "Trojans" reached #4 on Hype Machine by the end of May. In August, SiriusXM Satellite Radio's Alt-Nation discovered the song on a blog and decided to give it some spins. There was an immediate reaction from listeners, and in September, "Trojans" was placed into heavy rotation, where it maintained a top-five position on the listener-generated Alt-18 countdown and peaked at number one for 4 consecutive weeks in January 2012. "Trojans" began selling over a thousand tracks per week on U.S. iTunes and soon climbed to 45,000 sales -- all with zero promotional efforts from the still-unsigned Atlas Genius.
"Knowing we had this audience that was waiting on new songs, we had a much greater sense of purpose than we had before," says Keith. "It was really exciting to know that there were people who wanted to hear more of our music." Although labels were clamoring for the band to come to the U.S. and play a series of showcase gigs, Atlas Genius turned down those offers in favor of staying in Adelaide to keep writing and recording new songs. In February 2012, after months of communicating with numerous labels via Skype, the band chose to travel to the US in order to make their label decision.
"We'd never been to America before," says Keith. "We flew in at night and saw this sea of lights, and it really became apparent to us how massive the U.S. is. It was pretty intimidating -- like 'How do we fit into all this?'" In April 2012, the band returned to the states having made their decision to sign with Warner Bros. Records. "We felt a connection with them," notes Keith. "Everyone there feels very creative and dedicated to the music."
The band's first release from their new label home, the EP "Through The Glass" (produced, engineered and mixed by the band), came out in June of 2012. With "Through The Glass" completed, Atlas Genius then holed up in its studio and worked on writing and recording its first full-length album, while at the same time rehearsing for their first ever tour. The tour started in August 2012 which led to three more tours back to back in the US. Thus, their full-length debut was finished up between tour dates and got completed just before Christmas 2012. "When It Was Now" is set for a US release on February 19th, 2013, with an international release to follow soon after.
The debut captures Atlas Genius's singular combination of sophisticated musicality and warm, wistful spirit. Infused with a classic sensibility, each of the songs would fit seamlessly if somehow slipped into a long-treasured mixtape. On the shimmering "Symptoms," for instance, taut keyboard riffs mesh with urgent acoustic strumming before the band bursts into a gently frenetic, guitar-drenched chorus. Meanwhile, "Back Seat" blends its pulsing bass throb with a sweetly infectious beat and tender vocals that alternately soar and sigh. And on "Trojans," Atlas Genius begins with a restrained guitar melody and vocal ("Take it off, take it in/Take off all the thoughts of what we've been") before giving way to the handclap-accented, harmony-soaked refrain and lush yet kinetic bridge.
"It's still surreal," says Keith of all that's happened over the past 18 months. "I think when we were very young, we had hopes that something like this might happen one day," he continues. (Thanks largely to encouragement from their Beatles fanatic parents, who encouraged the brothers to begin playing music by age 14.) "But then you grow up a bit and it seems less and less likely. So when we put 'Trojans' out, we figured it would be a success if maybe a hundred people heard it. We don't want to force our music onto anyone. Our goal is to write songs that we love and we hope they connect with other people too."
Family of the Year
Channeling Fleetwood Mac's musical stylings with a hint of late-era Beatles, Family of the Year braid catchy melodies, stellar male/female vocals and personal folk tales to create some of the happiest and saddest music you've ever heard. The band's classic musical style has been integrated with a modern fanbase that the band continues to create and release new music for.
Family of the Year self-released their debut EP Where's the Sun on their Washashore imprint in September 2009. The EP showcases a variety of Family's music, and includes "Let's Go Down," "Castoff," "Summer Girl," "What a Surprise," and "Psyche or Like Scope." Where's the Sun is available for digital download at FamilyoftheYear.net for an optional donation. Contributions went directly toward the release of the band's debut full-length album and continue to fund their collective life on the road.
In October, Family was handpicked out of 700 artists by Ben Folds and Keith Lockhart to open for Ben and The Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. Shortly after, the band flew west for California shows with Bell X1 before returning east for the CMJ Music Marathon, marking Family Of The Year's New York debut. SPIN.com selected the band as one 25 Must-Hear Artists from the 2009 CMJ Festival.
In November, Family hit the road with Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in support of Family's debut album, Songbook, also available for optional donation.
In January the band announced the release of an exclusive song every month through their e-mail list in 2010 and followed that with the digital release of their sophomore EP Through the Trees on March 9 under their own imprint, Washashore Records. The band retains their signature folk-inspired style while pushing the musical genre exploration for which they're known on the new EP, which also features friend and fan Willy Mason.
Singers Joe Keefe and Meredith Sheldon blend seamless harmonies in the Beach Boys-esque ballad, "Summer Girl," while "Stupidland" and "Let's Go Down" are upbeat, catchy folk tunes. Crossing boundries, Through the Trees features the traditional Family sound, but will also include "The Barn," a synth-heavy rock song, as well as "The Princess and the Pea," which embodies a laid-back yet catchy reggae sound.
Like most American families, FOTY come from all over. Brothers Joe and Sebastian Keefe grew up in Wales before staking their claim as locals on the rustic country island Martha's Vineyard, where they grew up with Meredith Sheldon and Farley Glavin. Christina Schroeter is a misfit of Orange County, CA while across the country southern gentleman James Buckey grew up in Jacksonville, FL.
Musical veterans Joe, Seb, James, and Farley enjoyed local Boston success in their raw rock ensemble Unbusted. Farley and the Keefe brothers switched gears when they created the up-tempo indie-pop band The Billionaires, while James pursued a career in sound engineering. Christina, who spent five years of her childhood trying to weasel out of piano lessons, recently resigned from an entertainment PR firm, where she often rushed clients down red carpets before heading to band practice. Meredith is an accomplished singer and guitarist, and has toured with Ben Taylor as a backup vocalist.
Joe, Seb, and Jamesy met Christina in LA, and Meredith and Farley moved from Martha's Vineyard to complete the ensemble. Even when they're not practicing, you can bet that this tight-knit group are hanging out. Whether it's playing board games at the practice space or mellow nights sitting by the backyard fire pit over a jug of wine, FOTY truly consider each other family.
"I'd never heard anything like them before. They were so eclectic in the music choices, something like a combination of folk indie rock and the Beach Boys. I was fascinated. They were [Ben Folds'] favorite, too."
-Keith Lockhart, Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra
"A collective that's equally comfortable harmonizing on '70s-style Hollywood Hills piano rock as it is churning out urgent, high-tech indie pop." --SPIN.com
"They're like the Mamas and the Papas on acid." --Steven Tyler
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
""Formed in late 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is the off-kilter title under which Detroit-area natives Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott record, release and perform music.
Initially beginning as an exercise in collaboration undertaken with very little intention of ever being publicly consumed, the band's trajectory has been as unexpected as it has been unlikely. In just a few short years, fans have seen the project grow from basement recording project--to media curiosity--to an international touring ensemble widely recognized for their joy-fueled live offerings.
While Epstein and Zott have no ties to popular NASCAR circuit driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. nor his late father, the band's peculiar name was initially suggested to the duo on a lark. The pair assert that the strange moniker has been kept in tact due to the freedom they came to realize such a title gave them to explore whatever musical endeavors they could think up. "The idea being", Epstein says, "that if one can accept a band being named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., then you've already opened yourself up to listening to anything that band can come up with. You've already decided to leave expectations behind".
From that mantra, the foundation of their partnership was built. Each having spent a good deal of time in various recording and performance environments prior to working with one another, Epstein & Zott set out to explore the many intricacies of cross-genre songwriting and production together with a willingness to borrow as much from the Beach Boys as the Geto Boys if it meant a more dynamic form of pop music. An organic vs. synthesized perspective which by necessity lacked a specified audience or desired outcome, outside of challenging oneself."