A timeless fairy-tale land of fleeting fright and fancy flight

PREVIEW Dear Akron/Family: When I first got my hands on your self-titled 2005 release (Young God), I wasn't immediately grabbed by your music. Its spare ethereal quality had to stew. But it wasn't long before the album had brewed, and I was pressing repeat. "Before and Again" and "Running, Returning" led me through the looking glass into a timeless fairy-tale land of fleeting fright and fancy flight. I fell the hardest for "I'll be on the water." This is kinda embarrassing to admit, but eventually the track even found its way onto a summer mix for my boyfriend at the time, because I loved the line, "Thinking of you / there's lightning bolts in my chest," the subtle field recordings of ocean waves and children voices, and everything else I thought it said about us.

After that I continued to eat up all of your releases. Meek Warrior (Young God, 2006) and your split album with Angels of Light (Young God, 2005) were both delicious. I found myself liking them even better than your first record — or just as much, but for different reasons. They still have that folksy warmth, but they feel more fractured. "Blessing force" begins with bursting beats, blossoms into intricate polyrhythmic interplay, turns to free-form chaos, and ends with a spiritual climax. Then Meek Warrior follows with the melodic, acoustic mantra "Gone Beyond."

In your music I hear everything from the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" to "Blackbird," Zeppelin to Zappa, and in the repetitious gospel moments, I hear Spiritualized. But mostly I find a chaotic, incoherent experience — which in your case is a good thing. Your sound is far too eclectic to fit into any Allmusic genre I'm familiar with and instead sounds and feels more like a spiritual awakening. I'm really looking forward to your three-day residency at the Hemlock, and I can't wait to hear the new material from your upcoming album, Set 'Em Free, Set 'Em Wild (Dead Oceans). P.S., I heard y'all made up your own religion called "AK." Is that true? (Michelle Broder Van Dyke)

AKRON/FAMILY With Avocet (Fri/6), Citay (Sat/7), and Howlin' Rain (Sun/8). Fri/6–Sun/8, 9:30 p.m., $15. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com

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