Akron/Family | by J. Honn


So, last night it seems I missed both M. Gira and the Akron/Family playing live in Chicago. That's what I get for being on vacation and completely unaware of times, dates and, generally, what it going on around me. I'm pissed, of course, but they will be back. These four young lads straight out of the New York City were "found" by Gira and he recently released their proper debut album. The band shrouds itself in mystery and comedy but are serious about their music. I mean, in my estimation, they have released a viable candidate for album of the year, albeit we are not even in the primaries yet. But people who rank music are silly even though I love to do it. Akron/Family is an album of subtle vocal style sung by all four members with music ranging from the deep to the whimsical. Think of The Microphones on acid. Layered instrumentation is what seperates this album from much of the new folk minimalism. This is also freak folk. All one has to do is first judge the book by its cover to discover that what you are about to put into your CD player is going to be, well, weird. Weird is good though. We like weird here. Bring on the weird! One moment Akron/Family will be lullabying you to sleep and the next minute they will be blasting guitars and noise, swirling around you like a quick thunderstorm you weren't expecting but were glad it happened to hit you after it passed (and if you ask mother nature for more you will get it). Don't get me wrong though, this is a very together record, despite its oddness. The lyrics aren't at all striking, but more like perfect image references that accompany the music. If you were to check out their My Space site and one of the song (er—interlude) titles they seem to have some sort of boat fetish and a secret code: ak ak. Which is apt I guess, because this record is much like a boat ride: slow and lazy at points, and dischordant (in the positive sense of the word) and rocking at others. So drift, rock, drift, rock, and ak ak with the Akron/Family. No doubt one of the best albums of this young but great year of two thousand and five.