Akron/Family | review
In one of this record's best moments
In one of this record's best moments - and there are a lot of 'em - the guys from Akron/Family "play" a wooden chair. While a rangy, lone acoustic guitar strums, the chair is leaned back, as if away from a dinner table, its occupant full of nine-grain bread and punch, satisfied, the chair's old legs groaning and bending and creaking along with the music. In Akron/Family hands it becomes an instrument, and it is played no different than a violin or a musical saw.
This album, their first for Michael Gira's Young God label, is full of moments like that. New moves for an old game. It's folk music that sounds like where it came from. Which is: today, now, 2005, month of May, Brooklyn home studio, post freak-folk scene, post BBC-created "New Weird America" bullshit, post old timey revival -- just good, intelligent, adventuresome folk music that doesn't need to flirt with the past to hook you.
The four Rip Van Winkle weirdoes/beardoes in Akron/Family -- who aren't actually from Akron and aren't actually a family -- sing well together. They let loose big harmonies that rise warm from the floorboards up to the ceiling plaster and chant nahnahnahs when you least expect it. Then sometimes, they lose their composure altogether and thump their chests like big silverback gorillas and mic the percussion sound. It's these pieces of unpredictable song-craft where they actually do sound like a family, when the closeness is too close and the weirdness too weird to just be,like, some guys that hang out sometimes and dig jamming together. It feels
like more than that. Like these guys, in some long lost and forgotten past-life, were quadruplets or died together in a rainy WWI trench or endured collectively some kind of piercing psychic damage and are thusly interconnected.
This record is a perfect debut. Sometimes full of joy, sometimes
pallbearer serious. It's strong, funny, delicate, unique and likeable. I can't wait to see what they make next.