Akron/Family has heart. - Oh My Rockness

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Akron/Family has heart.

January 5, 2006
I caught Akron/Family for the first time a while back opening for Sufjan Stevens at the sold-out Bowery Ballroom. I really didn't know too much about them, other than where they were from. And not too long ago, that probably would have been enough to guess their sound. What I certainly did not expect to witness was a Brooklyn band that rocked it hippie style. But that's what I got. Man, just when you think you've figured this city's scene out, it flips a bitch on you. It now appears that Crosby, Stills and Nash are the new Joy Division, as far as current inspirational influence is concerned (for proof, see "freak folk").

At one point during this strange show, the four mostly bearded men that make up Akron/Family huddled center stage around a lone microphone and sweetly harmonized about "love" (even the drummer had a blissful voice. The drummer, I tell you!) as an acoustic guitar was gently plucked in the background. The band even managed to get the crowd to buy into their Woodstock warmth, commanding us to sing our hearts out about "love" when prompted. And sing on cue we did. Man, what ever happened to the indie rock of youth (or at least of 2003)? When did Love, God, Peace, and Harmony replace Irony, Angst, Cynicism, and Dissonance as the musician's preferred M.O.? What's even more disturbing then a sweetly singing drummer (which is really disturbing, btw) is that I was completely enthralled by it all. So buy me a cone and call me Mr. Softee, because I'm hooked on Akron/Family.

Akron/Family has quietly been making some of the most unique music in Brooklyn. The band's epic electro-acoustic-psych-country-freak-folk sound may finally be primed to break out with the emergence of similar artists like Devendra Banhart and The Animal Collective. Akron/Family write wonderfully skewed compositions and, using crude home recording systems, strive for the pure, the raw and the spontaneous. Squeaking chairs become extra sonic support for their guitars, simultaneous thumping of each band member's chest aids the drums in percussion. And through it all, Akron/Family bring the kind and playful spirit that rarely rears its cherubic face at a rock show.

Now don't misinterpret; we aren't talking Donnie & Marie here. Akron/Family still have enough strange sounds and warbled rhythms to turn-off, say, your parents. But then again, your parents would probably think Sufjan Stevens and his John Wayne Gacy song was threatening too... and he goes to church and does cheers.

Akron/Family play Knitting Factory Saturday, January 14th with Wooden Wand and Mi & L'au (buy tickets).


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