September 27, 2007

Record Review: Akron/Family

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When a band has the talent to musically enliven you and lyrically awaken your inner spirit, then you know you’ve got the right remedy for just about anything.
This band not only makes you want to dance with their well constructed melodies, but they also make you want to break down with their discordance. It’s as if every single emotion you could possibly feel is carried by any one of their songs; crescendos mark the growing force of built up tension giving way to harmonious ecstasy while the discords manifest the collapse from internal strife.
Lately, the band that has got this powerful remedy is the magical Akron/Family, and their medicine is called Love is Simple.
Akron/Family is a group of four country boys who brought their rural sound to NYC in 2002. Lucky they did — if not it is highly doubtful anyone would be able to enjoy their music or their magnetic stage presence.
I was privileged enough to see Akron/Family perform this past February at the Appel Commons and was astounded by the energy they brought to their performance. They performed many songs from the newly released album, Love is Simple, which quickly won me over (although I was dismayed to discover that none of these songs had been released anywhere yet). So, with the release of Love is Simple, a longtime void has been filled in my musical collection.
The album appeals to communal love and humanity without sounding like some sort of clichéd hippies’ tribute, as many contemporary artists have done (I won’t name drop here but I’m sure someone will come to mind).
The opening track of the album is entitled “Love, Love, Love (Everyone),” and it possesses a type of anthem quality in its vocals. Many of the songs on this album sound like indigenous mantras; I have even caught myself dancing rather unconventionally to many of these songs, including the hypnotic harmonies of “Ed is a Portal” and the cultish chanting of “There’s So Many Colors.”
One of the best songs on the album is definitely “Pony’s O.G.,” which seems to be Akron/Family’s successful attempt at creating a modern rock ballad.
Most of the song plays the same sets of notes over and over, but it’s rather mesmerizing. The lyrics transport you to another place — someplace not of this world, with love being the mediating force behind this metaphysical upheaval.
Akron/Family manifests its experimental side as they ultimately bridge the song with saxophone and piano during the grand finale.
The main song of the album, “Don’t Be Afraid, You’re Already Dead” is also one of the best. “Don’t be afraid/ You’re already dead” brings way for the chorus: “Love is Simple,” repeated over and over until the point where you actually believe in the simplicity of loving.
Akron/Family is rather optimistic; if only it were that simple. Then, the world would be united, holding hands, while dancing in tribal style to the music of Akron/Family.