Akron/Family, self-titled (Young God Records) | by Dave Heaton

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.