Akron/Family | by Josh

an astonishingly well-developed debut

Seeing strings swing into resonant harmony is such a shrill joy I’ll drone down days with an amp up and a bass down low. I’m a sucker for sympathetic vibration and I’ve been so since the sound of my first forays into amplified exploration. It’s amazing how some tones can coax another note beside them. Even more astounding still is how that sound can soothe by slowly stirring up an empathetic frequency inside a sorrowed soul. Certain songs may get so scratched into our souls, but certain tones can salve those same wide wounds with sonorous solace. The self titled debut from Akron/Family is comprised almost entirely of such concordant comforts. Surely this assessment is somewhat subjective, but within me this record rings so strong and true that these reverberations suggest something universal. Its resonance shares the same depth at which Nick Drake is eternally enchanting and “Good Vibrations” is boundlessly blissful. The invocation of such iconic sounds makes for a most daunting comparison, but Akron/Family holds up well enough against it. In fact, if such a soundscape can be imagined residing in a space between Pink Moon and Pet Sounds, the sonic identity of the group begins to take shape. Balance both those records between Piper at the Gates of Dawn and the image is almost complete. More contemporary comparisons could be made to Joanna Newsom or Young God Records labelmate Devendra Banhart. Though they share a dedication to earnest expression and an affinity for acoustic accompaniment, Akron/Family distinguishes themselves from their freak-folk brethren by being far less intentionally anachronistic. Their foremost commitment is to the song itself and they will incorporate any necessary means to usher a track along its intended trajectory. This approach is most apparent on “Italy.” Beginning with soft strums and the rhythmic creaking of an old wooden chair the song soon breaks into Beach Boy harmonies and ends with a Neurosis-sized slow stomping plod giving way to an Animal Collective assault of hollered hoots and tinkling kitchen table percussion. It’s a most unlikely amalgamation but one that renders a multi-movement eight-minute epic that is constantly captivating. Yet even more impressive then all this audio experimentation is the cohesive restraint with which it is employed. Akron/Family prove themselves to be that rarest iteration of avant-garde more restlessly driven to perfect through wrecking than render perfect wreckage. The end result is an album of unified feel and tone but varied tones and texture. All sound is meticulously cluttered together into something all-at-once calmly chaotic and clamorously comforting. Mirthful joy merges with wide-eyed wonderment, reflections on beauty reflect beauty, and longing establishes itself as more of an end than the means. Distilled down through the insularity of the Akron/Family aesthetic, these sentiments gain gravity and resonate with a depth unlike anything else I’ve heard all year. This is an astonishingly well-developed debut from a band sure to be worth watching on into the future. Listen to Akron/Family on MySpace Further explore Akron/Family and buy the record directly from Young God Records. Akron/Family is acting as the opening and backing band for the forthcoming Angels of Light tour. Michael Gira and the Angels of Light are one of the most consistently devastating live acts I have ever seen. Do not miss this!