Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of 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. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “So It Goes” by Akron/Family from their 2011 album Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT on Dead Oceans.
For an album that was only released yesterday (2/8), there is already a good deal of delicious lore surrounding Akron/Family’s fifth studio effort. The album is said to have been written when the band was living in a cabin in the Akan National Park in Hokkaido, Japan, right next to an active volcano. Perhaps as a result, Akron/Family II‘s presentation and sound is imbued with a kind of molten, futuristic Eastern-ness that combines with the band’s Midwestern upbringings (the album was recorded in the abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit) to result in a sound and image that are hard to qualify but impossible to turn away from, like a pulsating volcano spewing neon lava right in front of you.
For all of Akron/Family’s trippy eccentricities -- from the album’s title; to their videos (see below); to their song writing and recording locations; to the fact that the album was supposedly presented to Dead Oceans in the form of a shoddy and inscrutable diorama left on the label’s doorstep; to the fact that the band is now a three-piece because lead vocalist Ryan Vanderhoof left in 2007 to join a Buddhist Dharma center -- “So It Goes” is a fairly straightforward piece of indie rock that is catchy more than anything else. The song veers away from convention as it ends, however, leaving the guitar riffage behind to settle into a lullaby that combines a delicate, Beatles-esque guitar line with some Eastern-influenced electronic chime effects.
Akron/Family more than offsets the relative normalcy of “So It Goes” with a pair of incredibly bizarre videos for the song posted on their website. The first is the extremely weird and jumbled “official” video. The second is the even trippier “broken” video, consisting of a perverse amalgamation of twisted cultural references -- from Julian Assange, to Kanye West’s new album, to a bearded Joaquin Phoenix. The actual song is incredibly distorted and barely recognizable.
Akron/Family will start touring in support of Akron/Family II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT on February 17, and will be stopping by Neumo’s on March 24. For more details visit their website.