Akron/Family | Love Is Simple (Young God)

cd_akron.jpgThere’s a fierce imagination at work on Love Is Simple, but it’s not inaccessible or overly heady; instead, the rapid changes within the music take you on a breathtaking ride through not-fully-charted territory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some records can’t be neatly categorized or summarized, nor do they beg obvious comparisons. In reviews of such works, the curious reader is likely to be forced to wade through a music scribe’s most indulgent ruminations to get to the "payoff line," i.e., the sentence or description that really compels them to seek an album out. With adventurous music like that of New York’s Akron/Family, there are no easy words, but why put you off by telling you how "challenging" their new album is? Instead, let’s try this: Akron/Family make wondrous, captivating, spirited music with a large ensemble that conveys a friendly sort of tribal vibe, a freak-folk purveyor’s affinity for "otherness," and an attentive player’s love of experimentation.

There’s a fierce imagination at work on Love Is Simple, but it’s not inaccessible or overly heady; instead, the rapid changes within the music take you on a breathtaking ride through not-fully-charted territory. One minute, you’re at a festival sing-along far off some gravel road; the next minute, you’re rockin’ out to a reverent Neil Young-influenced rock band or sitting on a back porch listening to a couple of soulful acoustic musicians. In fact, you’ll experience all of those in a single song here, the amazing "There’s So Many Colors." The eight-minute tune begins with a Pagan like chant of "There’s so many colors/ without the dirty windows" sung repeatedly, before moving on to some guitar-centered jamming and a rather pastoral conclusion.

The shorter "Crickets" is also pastoral—it’s a serene, folksy meditation on "September nights/ when the dusk calls us outside"—and one of the earthiest tracks here. But the biggest impact is made by the longer centerpiece compositions such as "Ed Is a Portal," "Lake Song/New Ceremonial Music for Moms" (a good title, that, and a wonderful example of controlled noisiness) and "Of All the Things," all of which are roughly seven and a half minutes long.

You’ll experience sounds you’ve never heard before in these tracks, and you’ll find it exhilarating that a bunch of musicians would chant, switch idioms and push the sonic boundaries that way. Phrases like "that chemical mountain chaser" will jump out at you, and they’ll sound compelling even if you’re not sure what they mean. You’ll think that songs like "I’ve Got Some Friends" and "Phenomena" are really weird, and you’ll want to keep listening to them to unlock the secrets of this group. You’ll note that Andrew Weiss, the aural impresario behind Ween, produced this record and that’ll seem fitting, somehow.

And if you’re any kind of supporter of bold new music, you’ll be really glad that Akron/Family are here, doing whatever the hell it is that they’re doing. This is psychedelic music for a generation that needs communal (and communicable) inspiration badly, friends. And getting high on it is legal, inexpensive, and yes—highly recommended. B+ | Kevin Renick

RIYL: A music festival where the sounds of Danielson, Iron and Wine, Devendra Banhart, the Grateful Dead, Ween, the Butthole Surfers and Neil Young are all blending together

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