Akron/Family are one of those exasperatingly unknowable bands. They've concocted an image, all right -- check out their MySpace page or the Young God Records one, and you will quickly be advised that they are "extremely nice, sincere and well-mannered young men from rural America who came to New York City in 2002 to make music." But other than that and the occasional unfounded rumor that they practice a made-up cultish religion called AK (pronounced "ack"), the only way to know these apparently affable twenty-something fellows -- the original lineup consisting of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Seth Olinsky, from Williamsport, PA; vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Miles Seaton, from Porterville, CA; vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Dana Janssen, from Williamsport, PA; and lead vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Vanderhoof, from Union Springs, NY -- is through their music, which falls squarely into the freak folk category launched, in the minds of the popular culture anyway, single-handedly by Devendra Banhart.
Through several albums made in a Brooklyn home studio and through a collaboration with Young God labelmate Angels of Light, Akron/Family earned themselves a madcap reputation: songs that start in a Beatles-inspired place inevitably erupt into skronk before settling into country sweetness, and folk-raised spirituals dart through Led Zeppelin territory, with '60s rock and general psychedelia also major themes. In addition to the more obvious influences -- the Beatles, Brian Wilson, Dylan, the Band -- Radiohead, Captain Beefheart, and acts like Spiritualized also clearly infiltrated the Family iPods, and to impressive effect. Following their 2005 self-titled debut on Young God and a split with Angels of Light (also serving as the backing road and studio band for that Michael Gira project), Akron/Family released their follow-up album, Meek Warrior, in October 2006. In 2007, lead vocalist Ryan Vanderhoof left after recording the adventurous Love Is Simple. The group remained a trio for the 2009 release Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free. The album was released by the Dead Oceans label in America and Crammed Discs in Europe, and Akron/Family followed the set with two singles, "River" b/w "Morning on Michigan Avenue" and "Everyone Is Guilty" b/w "Total Destruction."
After a long tour and a brief rest, Akron/Family retreated to a cabin near an active volcano in Hokkaido, Japan, in order to write new material. Upon returning to the United States, the band teamed with producer Chris Koltay (Liars, Holy F**k, Deerhunter) and commenced to record in Michigan Central Station, the abandoned (and infamous) ten-story train station in Detroit. The end result was The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT, issued in February of 2011 on Dead Oceans. ~ Tammy La Gorce & Thom Jurek, Rovi