Local Band Feel is a column dedicated to shining a light on music that’s happening around the corner, down the block, or a few towns over in our particular corner of the Pennsylvania wilds. We encourage you to support the bands featured, should you feel so inclined.
I remember these guys from a few years back when I was helping organize some bands to play a local arts fest. They seemed like a bunch of unassuming friendly dudes. One of the things that stuck out most was that the guitar they used was a battered fiesta red Fender Jag-Stang. There was something about the groups out of time approach that seemed perfectly encapsulated in their choice of that timeline scrambled Kurt Cobain designed axe.
The band that I’m talking about is the Family Animals, and up for review today is their latest The End Is Mere. A trio comprised of two brothers, drummer Anthony Viola and vocalist-guitarist Jesse Viola along with best pal Frank DeSando on bass. The group has racked up the miles playing hundreds of shows and putting out seven proper releases over the past few years. It’s evident they have that intangible type of telepathic connection that bands get after playing together for an extended period of time.
There seem to be three p’s that matter the most to these guys: punk, psych and prog. I’m happy to report that their latest delivers the goods on all fronts. Wrapped in some very groovy psychedelic art courtesy of another former local Brian Langan (SW!MS, Langor, Needle Points, etc) that perfectly matches the surreal sci-fi world the band has created on this semi-concept album. It’s a song cycle that manages to never take itself too seriously. There’s a Zappaesque playfulness about the proceedings that manages to shine through especially on tracks like “Guitarbot 4000 & The Two Tongued Twins (Live at Magnitard’s Tavern),” while “Captain Z Bop’s Friendly Friends” seems to use The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” as a launching pad for a Nuggets influenced jam all its own. Those are just two examples on an album full of absurdist left turns, and a crazy amount of variety from song to song. The End Is Mere feels like a kaleidoscopic postcard from the edge of the group’s own far out musical universe. Hop on aboard; it’s a trip well worth taking.