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.
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.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/07-many-ghosts.mp3]
Download: Akron/Family – Many Ghosts [MP3]