I always imagined what he would be like, though, because that’s what the normal cool kids do. He would have been kind of dorky, smart, totally hilarious, have bad vision, a beard and be really into music. He and his friends would hang out in his room for days on end, writing music and talking about boy things like dragons and girls and Pink Floyd’s Animals, just geeking out playing bass riffs.
Essentially, my imaginary big brother and his friends would probably have been Akron/Family, so S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT would probably have been their fifth (and coincidentally also their best) album.
S/T II is heavily influenced by “Bent Acid Punk Diamond fuzz” (honestly, who knows), underground Japanese noise, and the 70’s drums Akron/Family rebuilt themselves and play with their own sticks. The band is currently pushing and shoving at the frontiers of music as we know it, breathing fresh life into what at times seems like just another karmic cycle of life’s suffering: the music industry. Sometimes, new music is good only due to the fact that it is refreshing and a change—but whatever was attempted is so weird it doesn’t have the potential to last. Akron/Family’s latest album is new, refreshing, and, exceptionally, please, please, please can we have it last, because we could all use so much more like S/T II.
They wrote it in a cabin built into the side of an active volcano in Japan. They recorded it in an abandoned train station in Detroit. They sent a fragmented, stream-of-consciousness letter to their record label explaining everything about it—here’s an excerpt: “Catching the Big Fish. An Eastern European blue van dream up. Follow the 12-foot yellow paper roll from SE Portland. A dream roll of visions and bulldozers organized by Future Librarians unemployed, Intoxicated, Artistic-bent, Roving Aimlessly Free of expectation 100 years later.” (By explaining “everything” I guess I meant “nothing at all.”)
So, after all that, what does S/T II even sound like? “Psych folk” is what people are calling it these days, I just call it a happy-maker. The album is all honey and chirpy and tribal drums and happy harmonies and fuzzy guitars (fans of Edward Sharpe and Animal Collective’s potential love-child, listen UP). Some highlights: “Light Emerges” is a rolling, building stomp-stomp-clap with layers and layers of wide harmonies, “So It Goes” is a happy, gritty jam, “A AAA O A WAY” is just way too good and way too clever for regular folks. I can’t find a song on this album I don’t like. My big brother is so, so cool.
– Fiona Hanly, host of SWEET’n'FLO, Thursdays 8-9am