Dana Buoy – Summer Bodies

Rating: ★★★½☆

Having been a fan of Akron/Family for some time now, it’s interesting to see where their music leaves off and Dana Buoy takes over.  Summer Bodies is a great bit sunnier in its construction than any of the work he’s done with his band up until now.  That being said, you can definitely see the lineage between his solo work and his work elsewhere.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Dana Buoy‘s solo outing until I made it beyond the first minute of the opening track, “Anatomy of Now.”  For that minute, you get little more than vocals, but then a sort of indie-clad tribal element comes in to join Buoy.  There’s definitely a light-hearted mood created, but it’s not overly exuberant…I like a little restraint. “Call to Be” follows it up with another emphatic number, though this one is a touch darker in its musical quality.  The chorus line of the rising oh into “this is just a call to be” is possibly one of my favorite moments on the record.

One of the great things about Summer Bodies is Buoy’s ability to build anticipation for the listener, leading you into the glorious hooks slowly.  He does this with the opening track, and he does it again with “So Lucky.” But, while those two tracks have heavier (sort of) beats kick in, he can also build into a slow jam like he does with “Sattelite Ozone,” a song that mellows just as it begins to pick up.  It might go too far at time, as the formulaic approach begins to grow a bit expected, but it’s a cool touch that I definitely appreciate.

And as much as I enjoy the beats that encourage me to tap my feet, I appreciated Dana Buoy‘s ability to go in a different direction altogether.  “Futures Part” is one such song, again building slowly, yet there’s a gentle touch to the track as it unfolds.  Time and time again, you think Dana could just go far off into rhythmic bliss, but he’s showing his ability to hold back just enough and explore softer sides.  You’re probably going to overlook such tiny nuances, but in a day and age where songs come fast and heavy-handed (in regards to hooks and beats), it’s nice to find someone pulling up short.

Listening to Summer Bodies comes off a bit like a two-sided affair, yet it definitely has enough to tie everything together. Side A has the tendency to hit hard, using beats to catch your ears.  Side B wanders a bit, in a pleasant sense, showing that Dana Buoy still has the wish to use his gifts as a writer of exploratory pop songs.  Tied in together, the whole record has the ability to thrill and uplift, time and time again.  Label me a pleasantly surprised fan of Dana’s solo work.


Download:Dana Buoy – So Lucky [MP3]

More Sweet Tunes from Dana Buoy

The Internet has already given some great coverage to Dana Buoy, who really is Dana from Akron Family.  His debut album Summer Bodies will be coming out in a few short weeks (May 8th) via Lefse, and we’re all pretty excited around here for the street date.  For me, I fell for this song because of the way it builds, using atmospherics, then his voice enters, then it continues to build with a bit of a background stomp until the end.  These sort of tracks are always entertaining, and for some reason, there’s a little bit of an emo affectation to his vocals that’s really working for me today. Just give a listen and see what you think.


Download:Dana Buoy – So Lucky [MP3]

Show Preview: Akron/Family @ Parish (4/1)

Date 4/1/11
Location The Parish
Doors 8pm
Tickets $15 @ Frontgate

Akron/Family released a crazy experimental album earlier this year and are now stopping into Austin at the Parish Friday night in support of the new LP.  Joining the band as opening support is Delicate Steve.  I’ll be anxious to hear what these new songs sound like translated to the live setting.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/01-Silly-Bears-11.mp3]

Download: Akron/Family – Silly Bears [MP3]

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

Rating: ★★★★☆

Forget all the hubbub and hype surrounding this release, as Akron Family deserve far more respect that to label their newest record some sort of creation via clever marketing.  On The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT you will likely find hints of the band’s past throughout, but not a group to rest their, they push their sound, and all their influences to new extremes.

“Silly Bears” kicks in with this really heavy riff, and for a minute, you’ll swear you just put on a Sleigh Bells record. Don’t be alarmed though, stomping drums continue, but a slithering guitar line meanders in and out, all the while the band do their best to contain the exuberance in their voices, until it explodes at the 4 min. 29 sec. mark. The track’s bombastic and all over the place, but that’s why its great. Juxtaposed is “Island,” a much slower track, filled to the brim with cinema-like atmospherics atop a hollow drum.  The vocals enter softly “off the coast of Mexico” and you’ll find yourself casually rocking back and forth on some sort of beach hammock.  Such restraint in this moment is why the band’s listens are so endearing, never afraid to go someplace completely different than where you thought you were headed.

Even more shocking for some listeners are the moments when the band give you two contradicting moods within a track, and do it successfully.  Listening to “Another Sky” you’ll get claustrophobic, as there seems to be so much going on; there’s what sound like drum rolls on the rim of the kit, crazy soloing guitars, “oohoohoohs” chanting in the background.  Then a bit of a clap-a-long breaks it all down into something momentarily quiet, resting primarily on the vocals, but the tension still builds to its eventual release.  It’s a brief soft moment, almost a pause, but just the slightest change in formula creates an emotional release for band and listener alike.

Personally, I’ll admit that I like when Akron Family stick to the traditional songwriting mode.  “Light Emerges” uses what one assumes are island percussive elements and just hints of guitar to give the vocals somewhere to walk.  And walk they do, but they also rise high, just before briefly stopping.  It’s then that the band breaks it down for a second, but those elements are then consumed by the song itself, sucked up into the fury that wraps itself around much of The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.  These types of tracks are far more successful, and appealing, when placed next to noisier moments such as “Say What You Want To,” a song that borders on pure mindless noise at moments.  Yes, there are clear moments of skill and craft within, but rambunctious moments just don’t seem as successful.

Clearly, Akron Family are not your ordinary band, and in being such, they’re not likely to make a record that you can just sit and absorb.  They push your ears in all directions, begging you to deconstruct the songs as you seem fit, filling tracks with as much, or as little (“Canopy”), as they wish.  There are certain times when it all seems to be too much, yet they pull you back in with just a light change in direction in the middle of a track.  Such gentle moves are only a mark of the maneuvering and talent that lays within The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.


Download: Akron/Family – Silly Bears [MP3]

New Track from Akron/Family

There’s been all kind of mystery surrounding the new record from Akron Family, titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.  You’ll find the album in stores on February 8th in the US from Dead Oceans, and the mystery is beginning to unfold.  We’ve got yet another new track from the group to give us more insight into the release itself.   Also, the band’s released a whole bunch of tour dates, which include heading to our fair city of Austin in April, though there is a gap during the favored SXSW, so maybe we’ll get a chance to hear this killer new stuff sooner rather than later.  Give this new jam a listen.


Download: Akron Family – So It Goes [MP3]

2/24 Akron/Family @ The Parish

Admittedly, walking into the newly refurbished Parish Wednesday night, I was a bit unaware of the events set to unfold. Through the front doors, we entered into a strange, Gothic bizzaro world where the old funky Parish, as I knew it, used to be.  It was my first visit there since the facility’s upgrade. Similarly, I was only a casual follower of the headliners Akron/Family with only their latest Set ‘Em Wild Set ‘Em Free in my playlist repetition pre-concert. The opening act L.A.’s Warpaint, was seen as a bonus due to the overwhelming buzz I was hearing throughout the blogoverse.  Follow the jump to see what happened.

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FT50: Songs of 2009

bestof2009cover_songsWe have to start this list off with a disclaimer.  We have three writers, all with different tastes, so the list should reflect that a little bit.  Also, these are our opinions, and by no means, are they meant to be seen as an “end all be all” to the question of what were the best songs of 2009.  That being said, we like our list quite a bit.  Sure, it’s got some expected numbers at the top, but the rest of the list is genius.  We’ve got some of the songs streaming for you, and the rest take you straight to youtube.  Follow the jump for full list.

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Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free

akronRating: ★★★★☆

When you come across the musical landscape today, it’s fairly easy to classify most groups within a certain genre, especially when it comes to independent music.  Akron/Family‘s new album, Set Em Wild Set Em Free (out now on Dead Oceans) , does not fit easily into any such category, and listeners are better off for the approach to songwriting that the group has taken.

“Everyone is Guilty” jumps the album off with a funky math rock instrumental moment, but just as you brace yourself for a prolonged psychedelic math trip, grouped vocal harmonies bounce in, altering the landscape within the song; the song progresses, bouncing back and forth between the gang vocal approach and the elemental science funk.  For the most part, this song serves as the perfect opening to the album, as it lays down the dichotomy of the entire album.  This album is one that never stays in one place for too long, combining various albums, different paces and a variety of other musical tricks to make this one of the most diverse listening experiences of the year.

Of course, there are moments when the experimentation goes a step too far, but alas, no band is truly perfect.  Take the longest song on the album, “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon,” which meanders along well enough, as all the songs on this album do, but then it is destroyed by irritating noise experimentation. Such moves are a rarity in this case, but this is one moment, of the few, when they band fell off the tracks. Similarly, “Creatures” tries to delve into some electronic drum work, and although the vocal performance is memorable, it detracts from the song a bit as the atmospherics lead the listener to wander.

Still, there are some clearly perfect moments in abundance.  The gentle rolling along of “River” creates a song that suits the title of the song, as it seems to gently move along due to the steady pacing of the drums.  It’s as if you can hear the river coming down towards you.  “Sun Will Shine” is another gem off the album, which recalls the structures of a band like The Dodos who construct and deconstruct with perfect execution.  Even the haunting moments of “Many Ghosts” brings to mind the folkier side of bands like the Unicorns, as Akron/Family uses various instruments to create a wall of oddball sounds to accompany their finely woven tunes.

For those interested in this album, you will not only be rewarded by an enjoyable listening experience, but you will find that the length is suiting as well.  This is an album where you will get what you paid for in length, as well as in the quantity of songs.  Sit back for a spell, and let Set Em Wild Set Em Free take you away for awhile.


Download: Akron/Family – Many Ghosts [MP3]