Akron / Family
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Akron/Family at the 2009 SXSW festival
|Origin||Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York|
|Genres||Indie folk, freak folk, psychedelic rock, experimental rock|
|Years active||2002–2013 (indefinite hiatus)|
|Labels||Young God, Dead Oceans, Joyful Noise|
|Associated acts||Angels of Light, Greg Davis, Megafaun, Best of Seth, Swans|
|Past members||Ryan Vanderhoof|
Music and history
Though each member of the band—Dana Janssen, Seth Olinsky, and Miles Seaton—can be relegated to loosely defined roles, all members play several instruments and sing, as evidenced by their shows and recorded material. Live, the band uses improvisation and three-part harmonies in prominence. On their self-titled debut record, field recordings of a creaking chair, thunderclaps and the white noise of a television find their way alongside psychedelic and electronic elements, guitars and a glockenspiel.
Early years (2003–2006)
Between 2003 and 2007 the band was the hub of a social scene in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which revolved around the "Gimme! Coffee" coffee shop. Many of the events of this period served as material for songs.
In 2003, the band began sending demos to Young God Records label head Michael Gira, who announced the following year their signing to the label. Akron/Family, culled from several albums' worth of material recorded in the band's Brooklyn apartment, was released in March 2005. The Wire said, "Akron/Family's hushed left field pastoralism invite comparison with the loose US scene of folk-derived weirdness ... Immaculately interwoven electronics and the care with which each beautifully recorded track unfolds recall Chicago post-rock ..." (Davies 2005).
Released that same month was Angels of Light's Sing "Other People", on which Akron/Family served as the main backing band. Several extensive tours of the United States and Europe with Gira — playing as Angels of Light — followed immediately afterward, lasting much of the rest of the year. In the stretches supporting Gira, the band played dual roles as both the supporting and headlining act; in the stretches without Gira, their touring mates included Great Lake Swimmers and Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls.
The next Akron/Family material released was Akron/Family & Angels of Light, a split album with Angels of Light in October 2005. Shortly after releasing Meek Warrior in October 2006, the band debuted seven demo songs on WNYC radio, suggesting another album was already in the works. The band has contributed vocals to Canadian post-rock band Do Make Say Think's album, You, You're a History in Rust and the more recent, Other Truths.
Love Is Simple (2007)
In September 2007, it was announced that original member Ryan Vanderhoof departed the group "amicably sometime between the completion of (2007 release) Love Is Simple and the start of the band's U.S. tour" according to Akron/Family's publicist. The reasoning behind his departure was that "he went to live in a Buddhist Dharma center (Tsogyelgar/Flaming Jewel) in the Midwest." The Akron/Family tour in September 2007 included supporting acts Megafaun and Greg Davis who joined the Akron/Family onstage to create a seven-piece band. Megafaun and Greg Davis also played in Akron/Family band for their October 2007 west coast tour. The Dodos played the opening sets on this tour. In the spring of 2008 the band toured with Megafaun as their supporting act. In addition to opening, all three members of Megafaun joined Akron/Family onstage to create a six-piece band. Akron/Family are primarily performing as a three-piece band now.
Set 'Em Wild, Set Em Free (2008–2011)
On October 5, 2008, the News section of Akron/Family's official website was updated to announce that the band had begun recording a new album. The album, titled Set 'Em Wild, Set Em Free was released on May 5, 2009, by Dead Oceans Records. Crammed Discs will be putting it out in Europe on the same date. On February 15, 2009 Set 'Em Wild, Set Em Free leaked onto the internet. Throughout the late summer and into the fall of 2009, Akron/Family headlined a tour with Slaraffenland as the opening band and Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard serving as lead support. Slaraffenland also contributed in much of Akron/Family's set, playing percussion and horns.
S/T II:The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (2011–2012)
Akron/Family sent out an email confirming the title of their following album, writing "This album is titled S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT. We have no idea what that means. After the jump you’ll find a photo of the note found in the brown box delivery with the song list, video, and an mp3 of the song fragments retrieved from the TDK CDR, relics of a new tomorrow and a brighter Akron/Family filled future. These are the beginnings, hell or high water you’ll find S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT in stores in the U.S. on February 8, and March 14 in the U.K."
A suspected version of the album was leaked to the internet on December 24, 2010, though there was a dispute on numerous message boards and filesharing communities whether or not it was the actual album or a remixed version leaked by the band due to the radically different nature of the material. A different, second version of the album was leaked on December 28, 2010, confirming suspicions that the band was leaking alternate mixes of the album. The actual album leaked on January 13. It is suspected there are 6 different mixes circulating as well as the official release. A compilation of the leaked, remixed & deconstructed, versions of the album was released as the <bmbz> 2LP on Record Store Day 2011. The member listing for this release is Phil Cook, Greg Davis, Dana Janssen, Chris Koltay, Mark Lawson, Seth Olinsky, and Miles Seaton.
The band appears on Swans' 2012 album The Seer, on the track "A Piece of the Sky". During this time period, the band was also involved in a public spat for "lifting" a skull logo for its merchandise from California powerviolence band Man Is The Bastard.
Sub Verses and hiatus (2013–present)
Akron/Family's sixth studio album Sub Verses was released April 30, 2013 on Dead Oceans. The band began their tour for the album January 29, 2013 and concluded on December 8. After their 2013 tour, Akron/Family decided to call it quits to focus on personal side projects, leaving the door open for a possible reunion in the future. Meanwhile, front man Olinsky started his own band Cy Dune and cocreated Lightning Records, Janssen started the band Dana Buoy and Seaton pursued a solo career under his own name.
- Akron/Family (2005)
- Akron/Family & Angels of Light (2005)
- Meek Warrior (2006)
- Love Is Simple (2007)
- Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free (2009)
- Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (2011)
- Sub Verses (2013)
- Eskimo (2003, self-released) CDR, 16 tracks
- Franny & The Portal To The Fractal Universe Of Positive Vibrations (2003; self-released) CDR, 13 tracks.
- Intimate (2003, self-released) CDR, 6 tracks
- Akron (2005, self-released) CD, 7 tracks
- Akron/Family 2006 Tour CD (2006; self-released) – 25 track collection of recordings from 2002 to 2005 sold on tour, limited to 1000 copies.
- Sparrow Trout Heart Sprout (2007; Achord Recordings) – 3-CD set from Seth Olinsky under the name Best of Seth, limited to 500 copies.
- Akron/Family, Greg Davis, and Megafaun OM EP (2007; self-released) – 8 track collection of live recordings and alternate versions sold on tour, limited to 1000 copies.
- Totem – Improv Series 1 (2010; self-released) – 14 track collection of improvisation recordings
- Breihan, Tom (February 19, 2009). "Akron/Family Ready Album, Tour". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
- Kimball, Seth. "THE AKRON/FAMILY INTERVIEW". dynamic meter.[permanent dead link]
- "News". Akronfamily.com. 2008-10-05. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
- "Man Is The Bastard Accuse Akron/Family of Ripping Off Their Skull Logo for T-Shirts". Pitchfork.
- Davies, Sam. "Akron/Family." The Wire. April 2005.
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