The Lineup


Akron/Family

Portland, OR

Since they are now modern psychedelic flag-bearers, there’s bound to always be something interesting when one tunes into Akron/Family, on record or in their always-evolving live configurations. They've tried their hand at muscular Afrobeat jams, whispered strums, all-out improv, Grateful Dead-like song-suites, meditative (and/ or goofy) sing-alongs, horn sections, drone-outs, obliterated yowls and, well, shirtlessness. They're about due for another change, so there's little saying what they might sound like this time around.

Born around the turn of the century from the vibrant and vibrating Brooklyn coffee-shop scene—coffee drinkers and servers, that is, not folksingers—Akron first found form in a stream of apartment-assembled CD-Rs that fought the noise of Brooklyn with an inviting inquisitiveness. Morphing into a live quartet around 2003, the band (with /Family now affixed to their name) found a home on Young God Records, owned by Swans leader Michael Gira. They discovered a mode of performance that seemed to invite unpredictability, or at least lots of people crashing the stage for communal chanting and writhing. More releases—including collaborations with Gira as Angels of Light, as well as free jazz drummer Hamid Drake—came quickly.

Following 2006’s Love Is Simple, guitarist Ryan Vanderhoof departed. Since then, Dana Janssen, Seth Olinsky and Miles Seaton have engaged in a series of extended collaborations, including tours with Raleigh-Durham heroes Megafaun and Burlington experimenter Greg Davis, west coast indie pop minimalists the Dodos, a Brooklyn-based horn section and the Danish indie jazzers Slaraffenland.

Lately, they’ve been but a trio. Last year’s Everyone is Guilty found them reporting from the different fronts of their existence, bringing the hushed folk and woolly jams back into one sphere. Akron/Family have built a large and breathing framework open to the possibility of reinvention and chaos. That is, new jams for all. —Jesse Jarnow