Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free (album review)

Akron/Family is yet another in a long line of artists that I’ve heard a decent amount of music by, but have never reviewed before for some reason or another. As with other groups that fall into that same category, it probably comes down to enjoying certain songs in their oeuvre but never found myself replaying their full albums. Perhaps a bit of that can simply be chalked up to feeling slightly overwhelmed most of the past five years when it comes to listening to music in general, though. Really, that’s no way to listen to music, is it?

I’ve been sitting with Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free for some time now and it sounds like a revelation for the group. Certainly, they’ve had gems on just about every release that they’ve put out, but more than anything this 11 song album sounds like a group that’s just having a freaking blast playing their music. In that process they’ve managed to come up with something pretty invigorating. Sure, it’s sloppy at times, and while some songs run a bit long or veer off into the deep-weeded ditch at times, ultimately this 50 minute album pulls it all back together to a similar thread to do its thing.

Of course, saying that the album has a similar vibe doesn’t mean that every song sounds the same. It’s actually far from that, as there are rattle-can percussion sing-alongs, delicate acoustic-based numbers, tracks that gurgle with electronic programming, and yet others that flare out into white-hot psych rock bursts.

In terms of catchiness, they don’t waste any time in getting going with “Everyone Is Guilty.” Opening with some almost funky guitars, it weaves into a sort of deranged shout-along with squealing organs and fuzzed-out guitars. As if that weren’t enough, it cracks off into some extended freakouts and finally a closing section that almost sounds chamber-esque (with horns and strings).

“Everyone Is Guilty” – Akron/Family

From there, the album jumps through many different styles, but the same sort of ramshackle sing-along vibe holds fairly steady. “The Alps & Their Orange Evergreen” and “Set ‘Em Free” both calm things down to a more acoustic vibe after the more playful, electronics-laced songs before them, and “Gravelly Mountains Of The Moon” continues the peaceful vibe at the beginning with some layers of flutes and horns.

Of course, after some sun-baked vocals that sound right in line, it all turns on its head and spirals into a sandblasted blowout of rocking guitars, layered vocals, and wailing horns. It’s a nice release after the well-constructed pleasantries of the previous songs and a reminder that the group can rock out when they want to.

“Gravelly Mountains Of The Moon” – Akron/Family

The rest of the album is a mixture of all the previous styles, with loads of incredibly catchy parts in just about every track (although the 3-minute noise blast of “MBF” is thisclose to wearing out its welcome). As I mentioned above, I’ve heard a lot of music from Akron/Family to date, but Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is the first one of their releases that really fully clicks with me all the way through. Incredibly fun, I now officially can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

(buy Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free from amazon.com)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 at 8:39 pm and is filed under music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free (album review)”

  1. something excellent » Blog Archive » Year-End Mix 2009 Says:

    […] Family – “River” (from Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free) Here We Go Magic – “Only Pieces” (from Here We Go Magic) Hildur Gudnadottir […]

  2. something excellent » Blog Archive » Year-End List 2009 Says:

    […] Akron/Family – Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free (Dead Oceans) Akron/Family is one of those groups that I’d followed somewhat peripherally for […]