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


4.0
excellent

Review

by Eli EMERITUS
February 17th, 2011 | 44 replies | 7,003 views


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 (36)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


Get this it's fucking rad.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 Comments


this sounds right down my alley, will check it out

pos'd

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


Thanks man. If you do, lemme know what you think. This is my aoty so far!

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



7177 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.

Digging: Ty Segall - Manipulator

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


Done and done ^_^

Thanks as always, bud! I hope Sputnik gets on this, as I believe that many of them would really like this!

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.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


It's wonderful isn't it?

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 Comments


lol Irving being critical is kind of funny to watch now

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 Comments


btw:

in an run-down train station

a run-down

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



7177 Comments


lol Irving being critical is kind of funny to watch now

=(?

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


It's fucking brutal that's what it is....

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



7177 Comments


='(

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


I SHOULD BE THE ONE CRYING!!!!

jk ; )

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



7177 Comments


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

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 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



7177 Comments


SEE ME ROAR!!!

*mews instead*

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 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

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


Sowing's the guy who sits on his stoop and shouts about the war and such at the youngsters.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2011



15892 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

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 17th 2011



10593 Comments


Haha, damn. Gotta love Atavan, though!

I made a terrible Prog-rock list and got the shit eaten out of me for it....ah, memories.



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