California's Family of the Year is a bit like the Von Trapps of indie folk: Brothers Joseph and Sebastian Keefe formed the band with friends James Buckey and Christina Schroeter in 2009, and the clan has been traveling together ever since. Amid tours with Ben Folds, Bell X1 and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Family of the Year has stayed in step with a strong commitment to share its music through optional donations.
The band's newest release, St. Croix EP, hints at what's to come in Family of the Year's forthcoming second LP. Its ebullient title track is full of stylistic left turns: There's the "Kokomo" drum intro, swaths of atmospheric synths, Thin Lizzy-style doubled guitar lead, and finally the fade-out's passing reference to the "Taxman" bassline. And yet somehow it all fits seamlessly, a gem for driving to the beach with the windows down and the volume cranked. It makes July feel so close and yet so far away — a vacation in a song.