CD Review: Akron/Family — Set ’em Wild, Set ’em Free; @ Rock and Roll Hotel August 11

Akronfamily-set_em_wild Akron/Family

Set ‘em Wild, Set ‘em Free

Dead Oceans

By Samantha Parvin

friend recently made the claim that Akron/Family is the new Beatles. Coming from a devout Beatles lover, this is
quite a bold statement. But in fact,
there are several characteristics that this indie band share with the Founders
of Pop. Akron/Family pulls from an
incredible assortment of musical techniques and genres. The debut track, “Everyone Is Guilty,” is
funkadelic, with its varied percussion choices and rhythms; “Creatures” has an
electronic, techno feel apparent in their use of synthesizers and reverb. “The Alps & Their Orange Evergreen” is
sweet, utilizing solely acoustic guitars and soothing vocals. It almost seems as though Akron/Family is
attempting to squeeze in characteristics of every musical genre from history,
and, whether that is the case or not, the outcome is successful.  Their wide range of styles coupled with
lyrics of life, love, freedom, and hope is really what urges listeners to make
the connection with such an iconic and investigatory group as the Beatles,
who also experimented with most every traditional musical style and built upon
it with their own ideas.  

mostly finds a healthy balance between experimental and listener-friendly; but
if you allow yourself to be carried away with the free-flowing, non-metered
segments, it may be too much for you. For instance, the cluster of instrumentation in the end of “Sun Will
Shine” is just that – a cluster of sounds that develops beyond many people’s
easy-listening threshold. But, while at
points on Set ‘em Wild, Set ‘em Free the arrangements go “free” and
“wild,” they do not let the loose ends dangle for too long, eventually pulling
them back into a rhythm-friendly arena; a matter of taste is the indicator of too
long versus interestingly long enough.

group is now a trio after lead vocalist Ryan Vanderhoof left the group in
2007, and this is Akron/Family’s first album as such. With all three current members playing
multiple instruments and singing, the trio is able to truly travel to novel
regions of the musical realm without being crippled by lack of musical talent
or knowledge. In a nutshell, this
group’s talent, thoughtfulness, experimentation and creativity far surpass
that of most music in 2009, and it is surely a refreshing change.

Akron/Family plays Rock and Roll Hotel August 11. Tickets are available at Ticket Alternative.

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