Family and Friends (self-released)
4 stars out of 5
Athens does it again! I’ve long trumpeted the remarkably fertile music scene in the northeast Georgia university town (Go Bulldogs!) that over the past four decades has produced, among others, bands like The B-52s, R.E.M., Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel and Guadalcanal Diary. You can officially add seven-member indie folk collective Family and Friends to that long list of first-rate music groups hailing from the Classic City.
The sprawling collective — Mike MacDonald, Casey Harper, Jamie Rios, Ryan Houchens, J.P. McKenzie, Tuna Fortuna and Maria Kindt — made a great first impression last year with debut EP “Love You Mean It” and build on that foundation with even-better sophomore short-player “XOXO.” This is a splendid six-track release that establishes Family and Friends as real players on the indie scene.
As was the case with their first record, my only realy complain about “XOXO” is that there’s not MORE music to enjoy. Family and Friends have plans to record their full-length debut in the next year, but until then the two EPs will have to tide us over. “XOXO” is an infectious platter highlighted by keepers “Amadeus,” “Vestiges,” “Howl” and “New Eyes.” Can’t wait for more from this up-and-coming outfit. (Jeffrey Sisk)