Angels of Light, Akron/Family | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Angels of Light, Akron/Family 

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The New York quartet Akron/Family tends to get lumped in with the New Weird America set--I reckon people think that's a good catchall category for anything quiet and strange--but pegging them as neohippies would be a big mistake. Their self-titled debut on Young God displays a tight, almost scheming sort of precision that makes every electronic breakdown and supposedly tentative guitar filigree sound like part of a master plan--part angelic, part demonic, mostly techno-heathenish. There's a soft, persuasive tone to lines like "When the cold wind blows / We'll wake up on the other side / Where the sunlight sounds like moonlight in their ears," though they would occasionally benefit from a more charismatic and dominating front man. Luckily, they sometimes have one: Akron/Family backed ex-Swans leader (and Young God proprietor) Michael Gira on his latest album under the Angels of Light moniker, The Angels of Light Sing "Other People." Gira's music remains instantly recognizable: he's practically patented a strain of dark-romantic avant-folk rock with deep, grim vocals that (like Leonard Cohen's) elegantly reveal a yearning for human sympathy. But the sweet harmonies and chiming, lightly trippy arrangements force Gira to lighten up noticeably. Somewhat surprisingly, that's not a bad thing. Akron/Family does double duty at this show, playing their own set before backing Gira. Josephine Foster opens. Sat 4/16, 10 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Drew Goren.

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