Akron/Family have always been a wild and woolly experience notable for the Kumbaya exultation of their live performances and loose-limbed, genre-spanning experimentation on disc. Initially associated with freak-folk, they outgrew that restrictive tag like an infant’s sailor outfit. But after four albums, lead singer Ryan Vanderhoof departed, culling the multi-instrumentalist quartet down to a trio, and throwing their process into flux. The resulting album, last year’s Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, is like graduating from getting stoned to tripping—not so much increasingly psychedelic, just bigger, more vibrant and colorful. It seems fewer cooks made the kitchen easier to negotiate. Harmonies, traded leads and group vocals predominate. The multi-passage arrangements are more cohesive and less jarring, with greater emphasis on melody and structure than spacey excursions. They still traverse a broad stylistic terrain but it coalesces more readily into a wide-screen cinematic presentation. If Caravan and Amon Düül had a lovechild, it’d wear their concert T.
Tues., Sept. 7
With Sleepy Sun + the Love Club.
3801 Chestnut St.
PW's Music Issue 2014