Akron/Family | Review

Time Out | Ben Taylor

stunning four-part singing

Considering the hype surrounding the so-called freak-folk explosion, it’s fortunate that austere NYC label Young God Records (home of psych strummer Devendra Banhart) found these bearded young men before the major labels swooped in and ruined everything.  Like many of their twenty-something peers; the unrelated members of Akron/Family migrated to Brooklyn from small towns, bonding over Beach Boys and Beefheart records while slinging coffee.  They caught a break when Young God head Michael Gira heard their home-brewed demos.  Gira produced their eponymous debut before recruiting them as his backing band, the Angels of Light.  

After two years of heavy touring, the group graced us with an amazing Akron/Family & Angels of Light split album last fall.  Akron/Family’s side runs a kaleidoscopic gamut from jammy detours through prog and good old classic rock.  What could be a free-form mess is gracefully cohesive thanks to some solid song-writing: Adding freak favorites like banjo, glockenspiel and melodica to a guitar/bass/drums core, it’s the members’ stunning four-part singing (and their brand-new clean-shavedness) that sets them apart from any other short-attention-span band du jour.  You can’t miss The Band and Beatles influences in their joyous group shouts and lush harmonies, but it helps to have a little something familiar to tie together the alternating waves of abstract pastoralism and sown-home weirdness.

Since Akron/Family pretty much records live in the studio, it’ll have no trouble bashing it out in from of an audience.  After tearing it up when it came to town with Gira, the group’s ready to fill the void for those who yearn for the days when the flaming Lips’ quasispiritual sillines was hammered home with a heavy dose of tweaked guitar squall.