Album reviews

Exploring textures of sound

Akron/Family: ‘S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT’

(Larry Busacca/Getty Images/File 2009)
By Michael Brodeur
Globe Staff / February 15, 2011

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On “S/T II,’’ Akron/Family strikes a balance between chaos and composure that feels constantly at risk of tipping fully into one or the other. It’s an exciting tension that makes the bicoastal trio’s sixth album feel especially together, even as its differences pull it in a thousand different directions. The band comes down from the cosmos a bit here, getting earthy with the sonics, and soaking in the same tub as some of Akron/Family’s grittier (and more concise) peers; and while it would be wrong to go ahead and compare “S/T II’’ to recent offerings by No Age or Liars, the influence of Detroit producer Chris Koltay (who has tracked both acts) can be felt in textures. The bombastic “Silly Bears’’ kicks off with a Sleigh Bells-y teaser — a hair-metal drum circle gone crunk — before gathering into a roiling cyclone of guitars, organs, group vocals, and noise. If you weren’t aware there was a midpoint between Yo La Tengo and Lightning Bolt, you’ll want to hear “Another Sky,’’ which can barely fit its bristling bulk through the speakers. “Light Emerges’’ tiptoes atop clinking marimbas, twinkling guitars, and cooing vocals until sharp guitars chomp down on its sudden thud of a beat. And the calms are as thrilling as the storms: “Cast a Net’’ conjures Caetano and the Free Design, while “Canopy’’ slowly brightens like a country sunrise of pianos, stretching guitars, and lush harmonies. When it works this well, “experimental rock’’ feels less like an experiment and more like a discovery.

ESSENTIAL “Silly Bears’’

Akron/Family plays Brighton Music Hall on Friday.