Is it mountain music meets experimental galactic rock?
Sing-along tribal folk crossed with psychedelic blues and funky Cajun fiddle? It’s hard to shake the feeling that the word “hootenanny” should somehow be involved, as well.
But whatever you call it, Akron/Family’s music is eclectic and fun, and their album Love is Simple mixes silliness with real musicianship and about every musical influence you could pull out of a hat.
The band is clearly comfortable with their instruments. The music is presented well, but does not sound overly rehearsed; the sense that the members are noodling around and having a perfectly marvelous time at it is strong. They also make ample use of sing-along, clap-along and chant-along action.
Fingers fly frantically over frets on “I’ve Got Some Friends.” Good-hearted goofiness is accompanied by effortless guitar work and a few electronic noises blended in for good measure.
On “Ed is a Portal,” tribal-sounding chants, chirping birds, a capella interludes and what sounds like a banjo are rolled together with skillful guitar picking to create a bluegrass-meets-new-age epic.
There is an overriding theme here: love.
From the title of the album to the first and last tracks ("Love, Love, Love (Everyone)" and its reprise) to almost every song in between, the message is hard to miss:
“What can be done?/ What can we do?/ Go out and love, love, love everyone.” A sappy Birkenstock agenda? Hardly. Though the theme is sweet and loving, the music is anything but saccharine.
The rollicking “Of All the Things” celebrates the Irish drinking tune, infused with jolly vocals and rock-star guitar feedback. There’s dance-worthy music followed by a quiet interlude, wrapped up with raucous distortion.
These guys are obviously having so much fun that I can’t imagine their live shows would be anything less than (there’s that word again!) a righteous hootenanny. I bet they put on quite a show, with plenty of audience participation.