Nearly five years since their last album, Routine Maintenance, Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties return with their latest album titled In Lieu Of Flowers, out April 12, 2024 via Hopeless Records. Aaron West is both a band and a story. It's a work of narrative fiction initially formed in 2013 by Philadelphia songwriter Dan Campbell, best known as the vocalist of The Wonder Years, but it expands with every gig and every person in every room. The album's title track, "In Lieu of Flowers," can be streamed below –– arriving nearly at the close of the record, it's a jubilant-sounding reminder of the lessons Aaron put off learning.
To understand the story of In Lieu Of Flowers is to know where Aaron's path has taken him so far. It all begins with the worst year of his life, marked by profound loss––grief, divorce and miscarriage––detailed on his 2014 debut, We Don't Have Each Other, and 2016's Bittersweet (EP). 2019's Routine Maintenance begins a new chapter for Aaron, albeit short-lived. After a bar fight lands him in jail and he has no one to call, Aaron heads to Los Angeles for a fresh start where he occupies his time between crappy jobs and open mic nights. On the road playing gigs, he forms a band and they start to gain some traction before another blow hits his family––the loss of his brother-in-law. He finds a new purpose in the aftermath; "I'm going to be someone you can count on for a change," he sings on the album's closing title track.
The new album picks up where Routine Maintenance left off, starting from the solo tours that Dan went on shortly after its release––on stage, he talked about leaving the band to care for his grieving sister Catherine and nephew Colin, but that solo touring felt like shit. The band soon got back together––as documented on their Live From Asbury Park album recorded over the course of two December 2019 shows. In the interceding years, Aaron is forced to finally tend to the wounds he’s ignored for over a decade, and that brings us to In Lieu of Flowers. It's a triumphant kind of melancholy that colors this entire record as Aaron learns that things don't go away just because you ignore them. Its message is driven home thanks to the 16-piece band that helped bring it to life with guitar, accordion, keys, banjo, pedal steel, trumpets, trombone, saxophone, cello, and violin.
The band has also shared its latest single titled "Paying Bills at the End of the World," a bleak, blue-collar ballad about living paycheck-to-paycheck, which can also be streamed below.
RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, The Weakerthans, The Hold Steady, The Mountain Goats, The Wonder Years