Sub Verses

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OK, i’m going to make this short (and then Long): If you already love Akron Family (and there are a few of you) – BUY THIS ALBUM, IT’s BRILLIANT. If you don’t know what Akron Family is (and there are many of you) – BUY THIS ALBUM TODAY, THEN BUY THEIR 5 PREVIOUS ALBUMS TOMORROW.  NEXT WEEK, HUNT DOWN AND BUY THEIR 9 ALBUMS OF COLLABORATIONS AND LIMITED RELEASES. SUB VERSES, Akron Family’s 6th Studio album arrives with no sign of the mystery-box hoo-ha* that preceded 2011’s ‘...SHINJU TNT’.  Hoo-ha which perhaps burdened that album with an unfair degree of anticipation it couldn’t quite meet.  It was, and still is, an excellent album ( we gave it a rating of 8, which is indicative of the critical consensus) but for a band which over the course of (then) four previous albums had taken their followers through a series of aural tangents (Acid-Folk, Mountain-Meditation, Pcyche-Thrash, Gospel, Funk, Dolphins) so beautiful and dangerous and crazy that the high scores were broadly qualified by a feeling that the band may have come to some kind of creative peace with themselves. If the first few bars of opening track No Room suggest we’re in for a carry-over from SHINJU then the following 50-odd minutes firmly lay those fears to rest.  Starting, as it does, with a percussive heartbeat, some quiet choral work then electric guitar leading up to a jabbing mantra, “Lord it’s so hard to breathe, on My own, on My own”, which dissolves at about the 3 minute mark where upon the band draw a defiant line in the sand, as if reacting – both musically and lyrically - to any questions levied by us puny mortals.  “While I wandered/there came a call/Across the expanse/”announces a tonal shift that forces the listener to either avert their gaze or stare into the light during this address.....it’s not easy listening, it’s wonderful and joyous listening. If this still seems pretty typical for Akron Family, then perhaps the best way to convince otherwise is that there’s a MIGHT to the album that has only previously been peeked at.  This is, in fact, up to this point the closest Akron Family have ever come to matching their recorded sound to that of their legendary live performances – It feels at once angelic and punishing and mellow and pulsating, surely all a bit impossible but never inaccessible. Looking ahead at what’s slated for release over the next 10 months 2013 is shaping up to be a vintage year for purveyors of fine music, but even at this early stage I’ll be astounded if Sub Verses isn’t included in many of the year’s Best-Of lists.

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