Akron/Family are one of those exasperatingly unknowable bands. They've concocted an image, all right -- check out their MySpace page or the Young God Records one, and you will quickly be advised that they are "extremely nice, sincere and well-mannered young men from rural America who came to New York City in 2002 to make music." But other than that and the occasional unfounded rumor that they practice a made-up cultish religion called AK (pronounced "ack"), the only way to know these apparently affable twenty-something fellows -- the original lineup consisting of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Seth Olinsky, from Williamsport, PA; vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Miles Seaton, from Porterville, CA; vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dana Janssen, from Williamsport, PA; and lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Vanderhoof, from Union Springs, NY -- is through their music, which falls squarely into the freak folk category launched, in the minds of the popular culture anyway, single-handedly by Devendra Banhart. Through several albums made in a Brooklyn home studio and through a collaboration with Young God labelmate Angels of Light, Akron/Family earned themselves a madcap reputation: songs that start in a Beatles-inspired place inevitably erupt into skronk before settling into country sweetness, and folk-raised spirituals dart through Led Zeppelin territory, with '60s rock and general psychedelia also major themes. In addition to the more obvious influences -- the Beatles, Brian Wilson, Dylan, the Band -- Radiohead, Captain Beefheart, and acts like Spiritualized also clearly infiltrated the Family iPods, and to impressive effect. Following their 2005 self-titled debut on Young God and a split with Angels of Light (also serving as the backing road and studio band for that Michael Gira project), Akron/Family released their follow-up album, Meek Warrior, in October 2006. In 2007, lead vocalist Ryan Vanderhoof left after recording the adventurous Love Is Simple. The group remained a trio for the 2009 release Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free. The album was released by the Dead Oceans label in America and Crammed Discs in Europe, and Akron/Family followed the set with two singles, "River" b/w "Morning on Michigan Avenue" and "Everyone Is Guilty" b/w "Total Destruction." After a long tour and a brief rest, Akron/Family retreated to a cabin near an active volcano in Hokkaido, Japan, in order to write new material. Upon returning to the United States, the band teamed with producer Chris Koltay (Liars, Holy Fuck, Deerhunter) and commenced to record in Michigan Central Station, the abandoned (and infamous) ten-story train station in Detroit. The end result was The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, issued in February of 2011 on Dead Oceans. ~ Tammy La Gorce & Thom JurekPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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