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AKRON/FAMILY | Review

CMJ |

from quasifolk ballads to swirling orchestral movements to sheets of electronic noise

Folky weirdos Akron/Family emerged from rural hideaways in New York, California and Pennsylvania, finding magic in the New York City music scene. They constructed a quasi-religious sonic worldview called "AK," they grew huge beards, and they charmed producer and Swans/Angels Of Light maverick Michael Gira, resulting in their ambitious selftitled debut. Like Animal Collective, Akron/Family veer naturally from quasifolk ballads to swirling orchestral movements to sheets of electronic noise, but incorporate build-and-release dynamics similar to Godspeed or Sigur Rós. And like labelmate Devendra Banhart, singer Ryan Vanderhoof's androgynous vocals instill the tracks with stirring vulnerability. The band, however, is ambidextrous and inventive—bassist Miles Seaton plays a squeaking chair in "Italy" and drummer Dana Janssen is credited with playing "bric-a-brac." "Before and Again"'s hummed melody and acoustic guitar turn into a percussive affair thanks to strings and cellular pho!ne bleeps while "Running, Returning" is a chest-thumping event (A/F literally beat their chests for the rhythm), replete with soaring, Thom Yorke–ish vocals and a spectral banjo/bass breakdown. Though Akron/Family diffuses slightly in its latter songs, the unexpected progressions and audacious confidence carry this debut. - BRAD ANGLE
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