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Strand of Oaks is currently touring behind their excellent new album, Eraserland. My buddy Max Somerville from local band Wreck Loose was tapped to play keys on the tour and when a Pittsburgh date was announced, the date was a rare weeknight pin in my schedule. Unfortunately, the show sold out and to my surprise, longtime faves Apex Manor was a late announcement as opener. The minute I discovered this, I contacted Apex Manor songwriter Ross Flournoy (who plays in Strand of Oaks band along with Max) and he quickly put me on the guest list. Catching up with Ross, seeing his hometown crowd cheer Max on, and enjoying two great bands has me thinking twice about avoiding the Southside on a weeknight in the future.

Huge thanks to Ross, who’s new album Heartbreak City comes out on Merge Records May 31 but was on sale last night and I have to say, it is so damn good!


Sweet video via Zoob.

“Ross Flournoy founded Apex Manor after the 2009 demise of The Broken West. Named after his Los Angeles ‘zen place’, Apex Manor was the idyllic apartment of his close friend and long-time collaborator Adam Vine.

Having relocated from the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles to Pasadena, Flournoy was enjoying suburban tranquility, but his car wouldn’t start and he found himself isolated. He whiled away the days cleaning the house, sitting on the porch, and splitting tallboys with the gardeners who worked nearby. And battling a case of writer’s block.
Enter an unlikely source of inspiration: an online songwriting contest. NPR’s Monitor Mix was soliciting original songs from readers, giving the prospective songwriter one weekend to write, record, and submit. Flournoy decided to give it a go and set about writing and recording at home. At least he would be doing something with his time. The song, ‘Under the Gun’, turned out to be about the process itself.”

Check out the band at their official Website, Facebook, and Twitter. Ross Flournoy is Apex Manor, the band he formed after a favorite of mine, The Broken West, dissolved. I was so lucky to be able to see them perform soon before they disbanded. He has released a total of three fantastic records, all on Merge and I highly suggest you get them all in a convenient and economical bundle here. You won’t be sorry at all, I promise. This is some of the best modern power-pop/rock you will hear. As I and other fans patiently wait for new music, I sincerely want to thank Ross for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

Thanks, Ross. Just love your music, man. Looking forward to more in the future and please keep Pittsburgh in mind if you tour.