AKRON/FAMILY "Meek Warrior"
IT'S ENTIRELY APPROPRIATE that Akron/Family's impressive new mini-album, "Meek Warrior," includes one song whose lyrics come from a Buddhist mantra.
On its previous releases, this New York-based post-rock quartet has attempted to conjure the fashionable vibe of "old weird America."
There's still some of that on this disc, which includes a Elizabethan-sounding ballad, "Gone Beyond," and ends with a sort of New Age bluegrass hymn, "Love and Space." Yet such remarkable pieces as "Blessing Force," an almost 10-minute expedition through thumps, drones, chants, bleats and phase patterns, seem to take their direction more from Osaka than from Appalachia.
Perhaps the Boredoms and their successors weren't a direct influence on "Meek Warrior," but Akron/Family has found its way to a similar sort of agitated yet coherent eclecticism. With free-jazz drummer Hamid Drake joining in, the group has fashioned a musical mix that pulls in many directions yet never seems forced or haphazard. "Meek Warrior" is unlikely to be the band's commercial breakthrough -- it's too, well, weird -- but it is an artistic one.
Basically a retro-rock outfit, Deleted Scenes covers a lot less stylistic territory than Akron/Family, but that doesn't mean the band is predictable.
The four songs on the local trio's self-released, self-titled EP are appealingly loose and open to possibilities. Within their guitar-bass-drums format, the Scenes make room for keyboards, vibes and a guest trumpeter and shift confidently from the bluesy "Day Off Work" to the bouncy "Trying to Remember a Dream," which recalls British music-hall pop. Give these guys a full 12 songs and they'd likely craft even more engaging variations on their basic style.
-- Mark Jenkins