MusicRecord Reviews

Family and Friends: XOXO EP Review

(Independent Release) XOXO, the second short-form release from the Athens-based ensemble Family and Friends, is full of percussive acoustic guitar workouts, vaguely biblical lyrical themes and massive, uplifting choruses. Which is to say, the EP certainly won’t help the group shake the Mumford & Sons comparisons that have followed them from the start. (I’m not convinced “Amadeus” isn’t actually a Babel B-side.)

Not that the Friends seem all that concerned about it. The group bests its local posi-rock contemporaries by virtue of the musicians’ fearful skill sets and their willingness to get dirty when necessary: The Friends aren’t afraid to fuzz the hell out, as evidenced by fourth-track standout “Howl,” with its dense, dark singalong coda.

Thankfully, XOXO isn’t all bland universalism; the brooding “Parasites” introduces a welcome bitter flavor to the mix. By and large, though, Family and Friends’ well-executed music continues to live up to its sanguine band name. If cheery, anthemic folk-pop is your thing, XOXO will likely be your favorite local recording of the year. If it ain’t? Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.


  • AthFest is Canceled This Year as Coronavirus Spreads

    As the coronavirus continues to spread illness and unease throughout Georgia and the U.S., Athens suffers a significant cultural and economic blow as organizers have announced the cancellation of...
  • Five Acts to See at Ad·Verse Fest

    With an eclectic approach that mines the space between music, visual and performance art, Ad·verse Fest features an exciting, queer-centric lineup of scrappy newcomers and more road-tested acts, many...
  • Shane Parish & Sean Dail

    With the innovative North Carolina band Ahleuchatistas, guitarist Shane Parish pushed the boundaries of the early-’00s math-rock scene by incorporating international influences, as well as a healthy dose of...
  • Ruston Kelly, Valley Queen

    Specializing in a twangy, earnest brand of Americana he famously dubbed “dirt emo” in 2018, singer-songwriter Ruston Kelly made good on the term’s promise last year with the release...