Akron/Family
S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT


4.0
excellent

Review

by Elijah K. STAFF
February 17th, 2011 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On their second self-titled album, Akron/Family finally live up to their potential, creating a meticulously crafted record filled to the brim with personality and poise.

Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT should be heralded as the first time Akron/Family got it right. Since their inception in 2002, the neo-folk/experimental rock group has sort of been moseying around, dabbling in the bizarre as well as the frighteningly simple, all without ever finding their niche. Solid, yes, but up until this point Akron/Family has been a novelty, a passing fancy, and one whose music has been regretfully forgettable. It’s safe to say that nothing they’ve accomplished has felt as whole, fresh, and cerebrally stimulating as their fifth, and most recent effort.

Akron/Family II is as outlandish as one would expect, considering the circumstances surrounding its creation. Supposedly, the band holed themselves away in a cabin. As common as this may sound, Akron/Family took this setting one step further, opting to live on the side of an active Japanese volcano. The recording took place in a run-down train station, with the band afterwards leaking a few fake pieces onto the internet. The little mess that was the start of the album eventually ended up paired with a cryptic message, in the hands of their record label. Not exactly the most classy or humble of beginnings, but the strangeness and sincerity really shine through as Akron/Family II is anything but ordinary.

Somewhat in the vein of Animal Collective, Akron/Family create a dense, electro-pop/folk/rock atmosphere, with plenty of emphasis on the overall mood of the piece. At times effervescent and capricious, while at others, sanguine and dreamy, Akron/Family II is chock full of deliciously lush sounds and tones. The opener, “Silly Bears” features intricate vocal layering, with a thick, lo-fi undertone. The little harmonies that are sprinkled in the background are nigh inaudible, but when contrasted with the curt, but effective guitar passages, their presence becomes even more known. Songs like this are what makes the album so brilliant. It’s filled to the brim; chaotic but wholly organized, and ultimately one hell of a catchy tune. Yet for each hectic and bombastic “Silly Bears,” there’s a silky smooth, relaxing “Island” to balance everything out. Relying on vocal harmonies and simple instrumentation on electronics, “Island” feels stripped down, and far more organic.

“So It Goes” offers up the album’s most “rocking” tune, with an emphasis on the bluesy, rock-and-roll guitars wrapping around the boisterous vocals. Subtle ”oooh’s” in the background accent the song, giving a much more character-filled, fleshed out sound. “Another Sky” follows suit, and is an absolute standout on the record. Opening up with an abrasively quick guitar intro, the song spirals into a fun, saccharine coated shimmering tune, full of beautiful lyricism and infectious hand claps. The latter half of the album seems to be where they but the “strangest” of the songs, with the brunt of experimentation and unconventional songwriting being featured here. Whether it be the slow-burning, largely instrumental acoustic “Cast A Net,” or the forty seconds of nature sounds that is “Tatsuya Neon Purple Walkby,” there’s always something to keep the listener on their toes. Also notable are the more Japanese sounding “Fuji I” and “Fuji II,” two songs clearly influenced by their rumored stay at “Volcano Inn.”

No matter how interesting or intriguing the latter half may be, it still signals a definite shift in the album’s liveliness. There’s just less energy and excitement, and the slower tracks aren’t really to blame. No matter how hard it tries, “Say What You Want To” just can’t capture the same fire that “Silly Bears” and “Light Emerges” did. Added to that, the near ambient acoustic piece, “Canopy” is awkwardly placed. Neither an outro or interlude, the minimalist tune feels like a more natural way to end the album. Instead, it gets sandwiched between two very similar songs, ending up as the penultimate track.

Yet this little hiccups are just that--hiccups. The overall quality of Akron/Family II is astounding; the sound of a band finally--after more than enough tries--feeling comfortable in their own skin. Beautiful, smart, and wholly absorbing, Akron/Family’s second self-titled is an album well worth spending some quality time with.



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user ratings (38)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


this sounds right down my alley, will check it out

pos'd

Digging: mewithoutYou - Pale Horses

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


Review takes a while to get started but the context it provided was interesting so okay =)

However: Not exactly the most classy, or humble of beginnings , but the strangeness and sincerity really shines through on the album, as Akron/Family II is anything but ordinary.

Sentence is quite stilted to read (too many commas), and there's an unnecessary space between a word and a comma too.

Also:

...Opening up with an abrasively quick guitar intro, the song spirals into a fun, saccharine coated shimmering tune, full of beautiful lyricism and infectious hand claps.

The latter half of the album seems to be where they but the “strangest” of the songs, with the brunt of experimentation and unconventional songwriting being featured here...

Consider stitching the two paragraphs together.

mmfarva
February 17th 2011


1352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my favorite ablum of the year so far. Another sky is just straight up spectacular.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


lol Irving being critical is kind of funny to watch now

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


btw:

in an run-down train station

a run-down

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


lol Irving being critical is kind of funny to watch now

=(?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


='(

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


I'm not very good at criticism I find. I think that's Zettel's niche LOL.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


i didnt mean it as an insult irving buddy

its just ironic to watch someone so absurdly nice take a harsher more critical stance. never said it wasn't a good thing though

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


SEE ME ROAR!!!

*mews instead*

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


lol irving you remind me so much of myself as a young sputniker...before i became the old, shriveled and bitter contributor that i am now

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


I remember one of my first interactions on sputnik was atavanhalen basically destroying me for something i forget what it was but i stopped coming to the site for a while

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


lol irving you remind me so much of myself as a young sputniker...before i became the old, shriveled and bitter contributor that i am now

So this means I will eventually become Contrib? F**K YEAH!

I used to be as scared as hell of Atavan's review lashings too. Then he told me my Bieber review was great and I think I'm a real person now.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


I still can't believe that I posted my first review and then never returned to the site until over a year later. Crazy stuff. Then I made my first sputnik bff's (tiesthatbind, romulus, lakes) and started picking up my reviewing...I didn't take myself that seriously until my TDAG review (see the one Irving just bumped), then someone suggested I start focusing on new reviews b/c of my potential so I did then I met you and Irving and a bunch of other cool cats...and well...here I am. Basically My Sputnik Life 2008-now


SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


sputniktimelines.com

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


I remember looking at your (Sowing) review history and was like WTF did this guy seriously do everything in 2010? Because I think there was one 2008 review, three-four 2009 reviews, and then everything after was 2010.

You should have won Sputnik's Best New User 2010 Sowing.

And I stand by my statement that bumping Sowing's TDAG review was the most important thing I achieved today.

Athom
Emeritus
February 17th 2011


17240 Comments


i was gonna review this but i got a fake leak that was terrible and glitched and wrote it off only to discover a month later it was one of the best albums released in 2011 so far.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


bumping Sowing's TDAG review was the most important thing I achieved today


As it should be, as it should be. Yeah I really didnt get into reviewing til 2010 so I'm more of a new user than I appear.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


7376 Comments


I haven't built up enough of a backstory to have one worth telling yet, but I remember I got to know Xeno because I had the audacity to go and neg one of his reviews and we ended up having a nice discussion about how it could be improved. Obviously I ended up removing my neg soon after. (so yeah, Sowing - my disagreement with Knott wasn't without precedent because I had actually done the same thing before with Cheno haha)

As for SS, I think you just started appearing in my review comments thread on a constant basis. I think the turning point was when you commented on my Modern Superstitions review (which everyone was ignoring). How could I not love you after that? One thing led to another, and here we are with three kids and a nice bungalow.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011


19091 Comments


ah, good times. i remember being impressed with the potential i saw in your early reviews. it was a bromance at first sight.



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