It’s difficult to be concise about a band still in its foal stages, but it’s rather impossible to be concise about Akron/family. With one album under its belt, a devilishly awkward myspace page and unbridled critical praise, Akron/family has impressed the music, digital and critical world alike. The previous statement speaks nothing of the band, and should bring upon rampant indignation for anyone possessing knowledge of this musical quartet from New York. The path to discussing their music is a long, winding one that I must somehow relay with limited availability of space and time. In short: Akron/family is interesting.
More than anything else, Akron/family’s self-titled debut release is an experimentation of many sounds. This is music rich with influences ” including: Radiohead, Mogwai, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sebadoh, Captain Beefheart, Spiritualized, Bob Dylan, The Band, Old Time Relijun, The Beach Boys, Jeff Buckley, etc. The list doesn’t end, it simply grows with each listener’s take on the band’s intriguing sound. The point is: This is interesting and dense music, and to lump them into the “freak-folk, pysche-folk” movement, like so many critics have, is absurd. Akron/family has very little to do with Devendra Banhart. I can’t recall listening to anything, in recent memory, that holds a common theme so vividly, while sounding like Blonde Redhead, Frank Zappa, Jeff Buckley and Mark Kozelek in the midst of one song.
This isn’t a cheap, nor a cheesy novelty act. This is a freaking amazing feat on behalf of Akron/family because attempts at making music so richly contrived with influences and experimentation are often ridiculously outlandish and utterly weak. On the same note, Akron/family is not a great band yet, and its one full-length studio LP should relay this fact quite immediately. However, it is also quite a progressively interesting and rewarding listening experience. This is one of those “multiple listen” albums that aide the listener to the path of discovery.
For the sake of avoiding the incredibly trite notion of calling music “unclassifiable,” I will attempt to somehow define what Akron’s sound embodies. The styles seem as abundant as the influences: country, ambient, post/rock, kraut rock, prog-rock, indie electronica and even obscuro field sampling enters into play. None of these musical styles and genres have anything to do with each other, except that Akron/family somehow incorporates them into its sound. Akron/family has inexplicably managed to do what a great number of Indie acts are failing miserably at lately, and that is to incorporate as much junk into their musical repertoires as humanly possible in hopes to achieve original sound. Well, Akron/family has managed to shove more “junk” than ever before into their sound and still create something new and undeniably concrete. The strength of the album is sufficient, and their future looks even brighter; however, their success in an area of music exploration that is always muddy and complicated is a salient achievement of celestial status.