AKRON/FAMILY | Review
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 RÃ³s. And like labelmate Devendra Banhart, singer Ryan Vanderhoof's androgynous vocals instill the tracks with stirring vulnerability. The band, however, is ambidextrous and inventiveÂ—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 YorkeÂ–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