DISCLAIMER – I really like this band, and I have had an ‘Akron/family’ playlist on my mp3 player ever since I’ve had an mp3 player.
Along with Animal Collective and Radiohead (and to a lesser extent the New Pornographers), I consider Akron/family a band that could prove to be a potent influence on the future of independent and experimental rock music. Now a trio (after the departure of founding member Ryan Vanderhoof, who left for intense pursuit of Buddhism), Akron/family continues to agglomerate folk, psychedelic, world, and rock music with a sincere, uncompromising, and ascendant approach that strangely (and wonderfully) encompasses art and ethic. Since their first split CD with Angels of Light, this band has shown a penchant for big ideas and deep groove, while consistently demonstrating great ability. Their music has always harbored reverence for Beatles, Kinks, and Who, without sounding derivative or being duplicitous. Akron/family has chosen a different path – they are comfortable with community, love, concern, and respect, while not afraid to unleash the freak-out (perhaps less so on this albums than previous – listen to Moment or Raise the Sparks to understand what I mean, though Say What You Want To comes close to the enormity of some of their previous freaks).
The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT is a solid record that doesn’t let down, while not altering the apparent trajectory of Akron/family. The jubilant, rambunctious, unadulterated, and creative elements that we expect from Akron/family are all perceptible on this album. Silly Bears is a vigorous yet intricate opening track followed by the chillwave of Island. Highlights on the record include the exploding atmospherics of Another Sky and the plinking, simplistic transcendence of Light Emerges. The band reconstitutes Chinese folk music with Fugi I and Fugi II (hat-tip Tom Qu), and free jazz with Creator (borrowing directly from Pharaoh Sanders’ Karma – “The Creator has a Master Plan”). The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT is not an unexpected installment in the Akron/family catalog, but it does not disappoint.
Watch: Akron/Family – Silly Bears
Watch: Akron/Family – So It Goes
Akron/Family – Silly Bears [mp3]
Akron/Family – So It Goes [mp3]