Released in 2009 on Dead Oceans
Format: LPx2, 45rpm
These guys are my favorite American Rock band. Every album they’ve released explores different sides of rock, folk, experimental and psychedelic music in such a natural, unforced way that my mind usually envisions them jamming by a campfire in the woods. What’s even better is I imagine I’m there with them singing along and worshipping the great Creator spirit that inspires their music. There’s such an unpretentious, inclusive sense of community and spirituality in their music that I can’t help but feel welcomed and embraced into the family.
“Opening with a groove unlike anything Akron/Family have ever laid to tape, the first track on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free kicks off a new chapter for the band. The percussive thunder and anthemic electric guitars of “Everyone is Guilty” make a bold statement, touching on everything from Fela Kuti to Sly and the Family Stone in under six psychedelic minutes. This is not the Akron/Family you think you know. As “Everyone is Guilty” fades into “River” the band returns to something they have always been known for: writing a timeless hook. “River” delivers Ali Farka Toure-like guitar work, but this song is all about the infectious vocal melody. As the album unfolds, Akron/Family’s musical explorations are virtually without limits. Whether it’s the celebratory sing-along gospel of “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon,” the lush folk sounds of “Sun Will Shine (Warmth of the Sunship Version),” or “MBF,” which lies at the intersection of primal punk rock and heavy free jazz, Akron/Family are a band boiling over with ideas. Their musical vocabulary runs deep – it’s not just Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young and the Grateful Dead that inform Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. Akron/Family feel at home on this album, confident and self-assured. Following a year of making things bigger and wilder live, the band returns to something simpler on Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free. With limited outside assistance, this trio has made a focused, powerful and unified work. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free maintains the communal spirit of the big band that won audiences over throughout the world, but it showcases Akron/Family at its core – three musicians, equals, creating music from deep within. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is something undeniably special and immensely powerful. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is the new psychedelic rock.”