It is a bit challenging to introduce Akron/Family to those who may not be familiar with them. The group consists of four young men who mainly write a strange blend of folk-rock that most people will instantly lump into this trendy new category termed ‘freak folk.’ They are not from Akron, OH, and as far as one can tell, they have nothing to do with the town. Instead, they hail from various small towns in the US and have settled in New York City. Their new CD and 2xLP is their third full length album entitled Love is Simple, and it is a continuation of what we have seen and heard from the group on their previous releases.
Akron/Family are an intriguing, yet bizarre group. Their particular musical style is difficult to pigeonhole, which is refreshing. The four group members often harmonize together, singing these big sing-along choruses. Lyrically, they walk a line between hippie ideology and existential nihilism. Their sound is like a blend of sixties and seventies folk and rock, but they are also decidedly modern. You would have to hear them to understand where they are coming from.
The oblique “Ed is a Portal” is one of the best songs on Love is Simple. It is a layered guitar tapestry with a full and booming group involved chorus. In typical Akron/Family fashion, there are odd changes that work surprisingly well and then the track returns to its original structure. Then there is the drumming that sounds like something straight out of a Pogues record. Another interesting track is “There’s so Many Colors,” an eight minute epic of sorts. It begins with what sounds like a children’s chorus singing the title over and over before the voices fade and feedback sets in. After a few minutes a banjo begins playing and the proper part of the song takes off. It ends up changing quite a bit and turns into an almost garage-like rock song, but retains strong folk elements. The last portion of the song morphs into a stark and melancholy acoustic folk song.
To sum up Akron/Family, they sound like progressive folk-rock with all of their structurally challenging songs that often include strange time signature changes. They are quite original and they certainly don’t sound like much else that is out there these days. Give them a spin if you think that they sound interesting and if you don’t, I am sure that they won’t mind either.