Akron/Family, self-titled (Young God Records)
Akron/Family's style of music is unique
"I have to say something if I wanna sing / but it's not about the words /
it's my voice rising..." Thus begins Akron/Family's debut, self-titled
album. Yet rather than a group which uses voice solely as an instrument, not
to express meaning, Akron/Family come off on most of the album as
philosophers, using artful folk music to work through ideas about existence.
Of course, that opening salvo could be just such an exercise, as those words
draw attention to the words themselves more than they would have otherwise.
And identity and being seem like important concerns to Akron/Family, from
their song "Suchness" ("I want to see the thing in itself / I don't want to
think no more") through to the album-ending pair of "How Do I Know" ("how do
I know why I'm alive") and Franny ("please lord give me strength / to be
nobody"). In many ways, Akron/Family feels like a completely intellectual
foray, but the music itself is often quite visceral, as is Dana Janssen's
high-pitched, weary-sounding voice. Their songs echo traditional folk sounds
in a way, but they just as often pack a vaguely psychedelic punch, somewhat
akin to a less dramatic, more subdued Flaming Lips. Akron/Family's style of
music is unique, in its slow, emotionally distanced yet often quite
beautiful atmosphere, in the diverse instrumentation the four
multi-instrumentalist band members play, and in the way that the songs often
seem like they're going one direction but than switch to another.