Akron/Family Akron/Family & Angels of Light (with The Angels of Light)

[Young God; 2005]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: freakfolk, electro-glitch folk, strum n’ wail
Others: Michael Gira, Grandaddy, the Czars, Devendra Banhart

More Akron/Family and Angels of Light! Christmas has indeed come early. And it comes with a Christmas bonus, as this split LP from the Brooklyn noisemakers and their fearless mentor may in fact be the strongest material both bands have released this year.

Apparently the boys in Akron/Family aren't afraid to twist their brand of free-folk into a gnarled mess of sonic explosions and sweet sound. "Moment" begins as a garbled collage of indiscernible noise, before peaking with a raucous sing-along, and before repeating the process. It's a shiny, happy moment for a band that delves deep into the dark psyche of music, a rare adventure through color-by numbers pop; but Akron/Family stridently refuses to stay inside the lines. "Future Myth" continues the this trend through the rose-colored lens of the '80s. The production is crisp, the melody is bouncy, and the tune's underbelly is what's left of pop's version of new wave. The musical time warp finishes its fantastical voyage through the wayback machine with the '70s classic rock homage "Raising the Sparks."

Michael Gira prefers to take a slower, more cautious approach during the second half of the split. Using Akron/Family as his backup band, Gira begins by staying in the '70s vibe, covering Bob Dylan's "I Pity the Poor Immigrant." The song is an alt-country sing-along. Build a campfire, grab a guitar, and belt your heart out. Elsewhere, "One for Hope" is another in a long line of hum-able tunes for Gira. The player piano and slide guitar by Akron/Family provide the ultimate contrast to their noisier, younger, and brasher side of the album. Gira is able to coax a different sound out of Akron/Family without forcing them to abandon what they do best.

More than just an introduction to the soundworlds of Angels of Light and Akron/Family, this split album breaks new ground for Akron/Family while continuing to affirm Michael Gira as a reputable singer/songwriter. Gira's influence on Akron/Family is heard throughout each track. He has the boys focused, yet loose. Conversely, Akron/Family seems to bring out the kid in Gira, allowing him to relax. This dual effort is just the beginning of a symbiotic relationship built on musical exploration and appreciation. Hopefully it'll push both bands to bigger and better things.

1. Awake
2. Moment
3. We All Will
4. Future Myth
5. Dylan Pt. 2
6. Oceanside
7. Raising the Sparks
8. I Pity the Poor Immigrant
9. The Provider
10. One for Hope
11. Mother/Father
12. Come for My Woman