Monday, November 16, 2009

Akron/Family: Set 'Em Wild; Set 'Em Free

Just released this past Spring, Akron/Family’s latest follows their trajectory, with Set ‘Em Wild; Set ‘Em Free. The opening, “Everyone Is Guilty,” begins with an angular, muscular riff leading into a chant-like lyric. At times there’s a bit of a Captain Beefheart thing going on, along with classic hard rock riffing on top. It’s a strong opener for another great offering from this band, quickly becoming one of my favorites.

One thing, there definitely seems to be less overt Buddhist themes, but this doesn’t mean they’re any less obscure: “And you are not longer river to me/though your coursing remains/eager to acquaint me.” The vocals on “River” sound like They Might Be Giants, and even the melody sounds like it could have come from that band.

Perhaps more than any of their previous releases, each song sounds like it’s in a different genre and style, and yet the cd avoids sounding like a patchwork and is actually among their most consistent works.

I don’t know anyone personally who knows of this band, and if I were going to attempt to turn anyone on to them, it would be this release. Without becoming ‘mainstream,’ it is definitely their most accessible, Again this is not to say they’ve watered down their vision. What is most apparent is the expanded tonal palette. They’ve used horns before, in a free-form jazz way, but here they’re more pastoral, and cello and violin add an almost chamber sound at times.

I don’t know if the closer, “Last Year,” is autobiographical, or political, but its terse lyric: “Last year was a hard year/for such a long time/this year’s gonna be ours” bodes well for us fans!

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