Akron/Family :: Set ’em Wild, Set ’em Free CD review (Stomp and Stammer)

Having comfortably settled into their role as the jam band that it’s okay for hipsters to love, Akron/Family deliver with Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free, an album that’s likely to test the tolerance many of those listeners may have for eclectic pastoralism.

Without the imprimatur (and influence) of Michael Gira on this new album, it’s easy to say that Akron/Family are revealing their true selves on Set ’Em Wild, and that may very well be true. However, it’s worth noting that although cuts like “Creatures” and “Everyone Is Guilty” may shimmer with a Jammy-chasing patina of grooving jauntiness and peaceful happiness, the vast majority of this album shows the group easily and seamlessly combining their darker, more postmodern influences with a freewheeling and folksy friendliness that results in dense and complex numbers that are simultaneously light in spirit and outlook.

Whether the sprawling, noisy and ultimately uplifting “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon” or the spooky harmonies of “They Will Appear” that blossom into winding guitar lines and squalls of feedback and, er, harmonica, Set ’Em Wild, Set ’Em Free is thick with the sort of flailing freedom and spiritual joy that more indie bands could indulge themselves with, while also being possessed of the forethought and artistic integrity that might make a jam band or two worth listening to.

First appeared in the May 2009 issue of Stomp and Stammer.


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