taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

WEDLOCK Continuity

As difficult as pulling off good electro-pop without sounding cheesy can be, Chapel Hill electronica trio Wedlock’s ( latest effort Continuity brings a fresh approach to dance beats while giving a hearty nod to the synth gods of the ’80s at the same time. The smooth, Phil Collins-esque vocals of Paul Allgood provide the jumping-off point for bassist Lee Whitsell and keyboardist Baxter Smith to lay down the full electro spectrum, from trippy house beats to growling, subsonic bass walks. The beats are creative and highly varied from track to track and never once flirt with monotony from the subtle abstractness of opening track “Blameless?” to the icy ebbs and flows of “Safety.” Allgood’s lyricism occasionally leaves something to be desired, though tracks like “World Machine (Universal)” have a charming level of humor to them and there are lots of Easter Egg-variety references to be found within. In this brand of dance music, however, refurbished lyrical themes are easily forgiven, since the idea is fundamentally to think less about what’s being said and focus on the beats-per-minute. That BPM is where Continuity truly excels, as there’s not a single track within that can’t compel someone to their feet. Continuity is driving, exciting and inventive, though it’s just avant-garde enough to stand out.


AKRON/FAMILY Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free

You get the feeling that when Akron/Family ( ventured into the studio to create their first release since Ryan Vanderhoof left the band in 2007, they knew the album’s spirit would directly be reflected in its title. Even the cover itself is a crafty nod to Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s A Riot Goin’ On. There is indeed a riot going on inside Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free, an album that finds the band taking primary production reigns themselves; the result is an album distinguished by an adherence to nothing in particular. It literally veers all over the place, while remaining united by an uncanny sense of control and a quiet assurance that the final product is indeed a thing of great import. Akron/Family’s rock side is even louder and far more aggressive than previous offerings, yet they can be even folksier at times and the experimental aspects take off into places never imagined for the band. Opener “Everyone is Guilty” exudes the same kind of driving funk qualities found on Budos Band’s second release, an arena where Akron/Family still seems to be getting comfortable. The funk is still biting and almost dirty at times as evidenced by “Creatures” and the enlistment of nine additional studio musicians provides a depth that fans who sold the band after the realignment surely didn’t expect. Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free is thoroughly inspired, albeit occasionally cluttered and given time, should come to symbolize their transition from stagnant free-folkers into adventurous innovators.


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