A (Sort of)Self-Titled Treat From a Cabin Built Into a Japanese Volcano

Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT – Album Review


TNT, as it will be called in this review from here on out, was released on February 8th, 2011 on Dead Ocean Records. It is Akron/Family’s 5th studio LP.

It would seem that the band wants this album to be considered a second self-titled effort.  This is an uncommon practice, but has been done before.  See: Peter Gabriel, Weezer.  I have always assumed that bands named albums after themselves for a reason.  As a matter of fact, self-titled albums have always fascinated me.  I always try to find a reason why bands might have chosen to do so.  Sometimes there’s evidence in the music, sometimes there’s evidence in the state of the band at that given time.  Over the years, I have come up with a short list of reasons why a band might name an album after themselves:

  1. It is the band’s first album, and they feel it is necessary to do so in order to establish consumer branding.
  2. The band feels that a particular group of songs, from a particular group of recording sessions is especially well-written, if they do say so themselves,  and would do well to serve as a representation of the band’s career.
  3. The band weren’t feeling very creative that day.

In the case of TNT it is painfully apparent that #1 is not the explanation we seek for obvious reasons.  It is also not #3 because the subtitle on this thing (let alone the music) is nothing if not creative. So by the power of deductive reasoning, I surmise that it is highly possible that the band themselves hold these tunes in high regard.  Well I’m here to tell you that I share these sentiments.

TNT is heartfelt, energetic, and highly satisfying to the ear drum.  The material was reportedly written in a cabin built into the side of an active volcano in a Japanese national park (which explains the cover) and it was recorded in an abandoned train station in Detroit.  I’m not sure which spot is more dangerous to be honest.  Either way, if these locales have anything to do with the quality of the music itself I recommend to every band in the world, from now on, to write as close to a volcano as possible and record it dangling from a helicopter or something.  Maybe not a helicopter, for sound purposes anyway.  Just make it dangerous.

This disc is littered with all sorts of moods.  The dance inducing tracks like “Silly Bears”, “Another Sky”, and “So It Goes” are hard to ignore.  The beautiful tracks like “Island”, “Creator”, and “Cast a Net” make you want to cry.  Then there’s the danceable AND beautiful tracks like “Light Emerges”.  I’m telling you that you can’t go wrong with this piece of music.  I’m positive it will go down as one of my favorite efforts of the year.

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