Archive for Set ‘Em Wild

All in the Akron/Family

Posted in Music with tags , , , on April 2, 2009 by Adam
via flickr user Taylor T-Sides

via flickr user Taylor T-Sides

Sometimes an hour and a half of jumping and chanting and sweating and otherwise acting like a crazed tribal epileptic can leave on impression on you. I had seen Akron/Family once before this past Sunday evening at Union Pool, but I can’t remember exactly when (probably about four years ago) or for whom or they were opening (Danielson Famile?) or many other of the circumstantial details. While I believe I enjoyed that performance, it obviously was not one that has stuck with me to a great extent. Ah, but Sunday.  Just wild.

It would seem that these guys have been holed up in some kind of magical mountainside cave since 2007’s Love is Simple was released. The chemistry between the three core members and brass section that accompanied them–a chemistry that I do believe was somewhat apparent last time around–was the kind that makes you wonder if these people actually learned to play music together. The set also exhibited a nearly perfect structure. After starting off with a few more mid-tempo songs, the band ended up building their way to an absolutely face-melting climax, centered around the new song “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon”. At moments when both the guitars and the brass were at their loudest and fiercest, I could have sworn that I was seeing sound. All of my pores seemed to be bleeding out the sonic ferocity. As the set drew to a close, the band took full advantage of the extra musicians, who added a deconstructed jazz fuzz to the slowly retreating final songs.

Really, the new songs are something special. One of them, “River”, will absolutely end up being my favorite song of the year. Note that I promised myself before writing this that I would avoid hyperbole. I stand by that. Akron/Family have managed to tap into the country’s collective state of mind, with the new songs demonstrating equal parts fear, naturalism, and most of all, a sense of anticipation for some kind of release, some kind of freedom. Their idiosyncracies as a band–shifting roles, a lingering communal primitivism, occasional unabashed bigness–are themselves beautifully American. When Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is released on May 5, it may not get as much press as some of the year’s other widely-anticipated albums. But rest assured that it will capture the wild spirit of our country and our species in a way that may serve as a quiet revolution.

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