it’s taken me a while, but by the time psych-folkers akron/family rolled around their fifth album, i had to pay attention. i’m glad i did. akron/family II: the cosmic birth and journey of shinju TNT is an honest-to-god masterpiece that hits hard in all the right places. while the guys are still best at anthemic experimental rock jams, the album’s got no shortage of quieter moments too, and it’s these that add the final missing element to akron/family’s addicting grooves. album opener “silly bears” has a video below, and it’s a freak-folk stomper that makes you want to roll E, smoke W, or whatever else you do to have fun. drugged-up but not creeped-out, fun-loving but not forceful, “silly bears” is, well, silly – but extremely well-crafted, the harbinger of an album that’s neck-and-neck with starfucker‘s reptilians with best of 2011: so far.
akron/family II: the cosmic birth and journey of shinju TNT is out now on dead oceans.
okkervil river’s particular brand of melancholy indie pop has gained them a sizable cult following, but they’ve yet to break into the mainstream. will scheff’s liberal use of literary songwriting may have been a factor, but in recent interview’s he’s stated that with the band’s forthcoming release, he aims to retreat from the cerebral and aim more towards the emotional. judging by single “mermaid,” it’s a good move – the tune tugs at the heartstrings without falling into introspective or clichéd territory. even his pained vocals sound more genuine than on the band’s fantastic (if depressing) the stage names. backed by what seems at times to be a full orchestra, piano, and choir, “mermaid” appears a proclamation of things to come. it’s not an unfamiliar sound, but lyrically it’s a welcome change from the sometimes heady songwriting of albums past.
okkervil river – i am very far is out may 10th on jagjaguwar.