Love Is Simple | Review / Interviewhallucinogenic visions of heaven itself Akron/Family infect a bristly sort of enjoyable insanity for your mind to fall into; seemingly complete and utter genre defiance, at least on the surface, because certainly on this the folksters and the experimental-rockers and the outsider-sound lovers and the
60s-grandiose-starry-eyed-popsters can all groove.
The sounds are free and expressive, like a drum circle in the woods, hallucinogenic visions of heaven itself in the warbled tribal shouts and wild percussions, wavy-scat-like harmonies sing love letters to all of the places that you have known, snaking guitar lines elucidate the crumbling of the boundaries of reality and you’re enveloped by awakening lyrical philosophies like:
“Every precious human being has been a precious parent to you.”
“No point exists.”
“Don’t be afraid, you’re already dead.”
Drummer Dana Janssen casually remarks, “Yeah, that stems from some of the guys being Buddhists - ya know, beliefs of impermanence and what-not -”
“Who are the Buddhists?” I ask of the band, including Seth Olinksy, Miles Seaton and Ryan Vanderhoof.
“Three of the four - and I’m not telling you which one, that’s the game -” his tone is a smarmy Mr. Miyagi, “guess right now!”
“Well, it might be - you?”
“Oooh hoooo,” he responds, “I might not hold my beliefs on my shirt like a badge.”
“I can admire that - am I wrong though?”
Pause. “No, you’re not wrong,” then a hearty laugh.
The Akron/Family is a (sort of) Brooklyn-based quartet of gonzo, neo-bohemian illuminati, obsessed with wispy acoustics, winding vibratos, conflicting contemporary philosophies on post-modernism and juxtaposed down-home-ness with tripped out kaleidoscope atmospherics; pick-up-truck-drivers with Herman Hesse in the glove compartment and astronaut helmets fashioned into banjos and in their eyes you see the errant mysteries of what’s at the end of the galaxy.
Or maybe not, but maybe the swaying sounds of their unpredictable operas: sunny, murky, cacophonous and wandering in their rhythms, are illusory enough in a quasi-holy sort of way that this imagery supernaturally presents itself.
Live shows include the band venturing into the crowd, frugally armed with light instrumentation and mingling with their audience, eventually seducing everyone into sing-alongs with their quirky primordial noise experimentations and stately beards.
“The album’ as a product is really kind of dying,” Janssen says. “(Love Is Simple) is sort of our last attempt to create an album.’ I don’t know if that’s really something people want these days. Popular music changed, these days it’s all candy-pop. Weird stuff - like Maroon 5? What’s up with that?” "Mainstream radio plays the shit out of 'em and it just legitimizes it; Middle America eats it up,” I offer in my best elitist tone.
“It’s a lack of information -” says Janssen. I offer: “I’m trying to cure that here, writing about bands like Akron/Family.”
He replies: “I’m with ya, man.”