Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s featured selection is from Morning Show host John Richards; “The River” by Akron/Family from their 2009 album Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free on Dead Oceans.
You could simply call Akron/Family a psych-folk band, a term they seem to try to avoid, and be done with it. Their music does have a certain experimental feel to it (a la Animal Collective), but this three-piece uses just as much traditional training to complete their sound as they do wacky creative genius. Although they try hard not to wear the weird experimental label prominently, it’s hard to shake the image when they’ve been known to drag just about anything on stage they can find to play during their live shows, including driftwood, pine cones, metal, and various other pieces of junk they’ve collected. These are definitely guys who are just as comfortable with Gamelan music as with the Grateful Dead, with hipsters as with hippies, not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. Noticeably absent on their latest album, Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, are the vocals and guitars of Ryan Vanderhoof, whose departure is alluded to in the title, but that doesn’t seem to slow down the rest of the band at all -- in fact, his departure has allowed them to move toward further experimentation. Today’s Song of the Day, “The River,” while being one of the less adventurous songs to showcase their new sound as a trio, happens to be one of their catchiest. It’s great to know a bearded band of gentleman like the Akron/Family are made in the U.S.A.!
You can find out more about the band on their website and listen to additional tracks on their MySpace page, and even follow them on Twitter. The band is currently on tour in Japan but returns to the States in July and is scheduled to play Bumbershoot in Seattle on September 7th. Here’s a clip of their performance live on KEXP during SXSW ’09 from ME Television studios in Austin: