Everything Akron/Family does is patently fascinating, wildly evocative and compellingly mysterious. The Brooklyn, N.Y., collective — with no connection to the northern Ohio city or each other as indicated by their name — assembled more than a decade ago and quickly became a central element of the Williamsburg scene.
In 2004, the band was signed to Michael Gira’s Young God label after overwhelming the Swans frontman with a deluge of demo tapes; the group’s eponymous debut was released the following spring. Gira was so impressed by Akron/Family’s Psych/Folk brilliance that he installed it as his Angels of Light backing band for the recording and touring of AoL’s Sing Other People, which was released simultaneously with A/F’s debut. On the subsequent AoL tour, Akron/Family opened, returning to the stage to back Gira.
In 2009, Akron/Family released Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, its debut for Bloomington, Ind.’s Dead Oceans label, a set that both continued and fractured the band’s pastoral-Folk-meets-howling-Psych ethic. Then came 2011’s unexpected and delightfully subversive Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, a science fiction passion play that ran the gamut from fuzzy Garage Rock to Hawkwindian bursts of acid-washed feedback to reflective Folk, all knitted together with sound effects and a cryptic but entertaining narrative.
A/F’s latest, the just-released Sub Verses, is a bit more conventional, but only measured against the band’s own beautifully bizarre standards; melodic, noisy, atonal, thunderous, pastoral, visceral, joyous and moody, Sub Verses is the sound of Polyphonic Spree as steered by a love of Frank Zappa, Roky Erickson and Tortoise. Expect anything, expect everything; that’s what Akron/Family is prepared to give you.
AKRON/FAMILY plays Wednesday, April 17 at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine with M. Geddes Gengras. Check out performance times and get venue details here.