The Broken West hailed from Los Angeles, which certainly makes sense when you listen to the band's combination of pop, high-spirited rock & roll, and accents of folk and country, whose overall blend recalled some of the best L.A. music of the early '70s, as if Emitt Rhodes had teamed up with the Byrds. Featuring Texas native Ross Flournoy on vocals and guitar, Connecticut-born Dan lead on guitar and backing vocals, California sons Brian Whelan on bass and Scott Claasen on keyboards, and former Floridian Rob McCorkindale on drums, the Broken West came together in mid-2004 in the Echo Park and Silverlake neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Adopting the name the Brokedown, the band began developing a potent reputation though well-received local shows, and won the attention of critics with its debut EP, The Dutchman's Gold, released in May 2005. The good press they earned from the disc and subsequent touring attracted the attention of respected indie label Merge Records, which signed the Brokedown to a record deal. The group's debut album, I Can't Go on, I'll Go On, was recorded in bits and pieces over the course of a year, during which the Brokedown learned that a band in Chicago was already using the name (and had a lawyer who presented them with a cease-and-desist order). They responded by changing their name to the Broken West, and Merge released the album under their new moniker in early 2007.
A second Merge release, Now or Heaven, appeared a year later in 2008. The Broken West didn't stay together long enough to release a third album, however, although Whelan and Flournoy continued working together after the band's breakup in 2009. Featuring a similarly pop-influenced sound, the two launched Apex Manor and released the band's first album, The Year of Magical Drinking, in January 2011. ~ Mark Deming