Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry, Mastered by Jeffrey Konrad
Nobody thought that this was going to happen, but right about now, there is a non-ironic love of slow-jammin' yacht rock - the kind of steely piano sounds and antiseptically-enhanced ballads touting all things soft: soft love, soft women, soft lives, soft men, soft mustaches and beards, soft drinks and soft caresses. The music is that of the easy jams that get bras gently removed and beds vibrating as the waves are lapping up against the shore, as an alternative to that brazen dry-humping/come-on-baby stuff of standard rock and roll. We have the great Bon Iver-Solid Gold-Megafaun-Rosebuds side project GAYNGS out on the prowl, reinvigorating the entire dead genre and it's a phase that makes us just as thirsty for those not so long ago days when Ben Folds was writing songs like "Smoke" and "Emaline." It's a bit of a different take, but it still gets us to a similar place, a place where we're starting to feel the wear and tear and the great toll of having to survive and grow up. And perhaps this is where a band like GAYNGS comes in, connecting to the transition of days becoming less loosey-goosey and more of a structured and serious endeavor, when shit suddenly matters and there's a requirement that selfishness has to be weaned out. It's as if the time has come to understand the sluggishness of their old men and the reason for the mumbling and the sunken eyes a bit. It's like being taken to a place where being cool is the faintest of concerns and the mouths that need to be fed are the important things. It's a domesticated place and it's somewhere that sees the group of buddies dwindle - the kill off being marriage, kids and trying to stay afloat. Pronto, the side project of Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen, is a band that takes us into a similar place, only there's more of a chipper quality to it, not a doomsday vibe. The band's latest album, "All Is Golden," strikes a balance between the sadness that comes from having to move on and the need to just say, "To hell with it," throwing back a beer at another happy hour, while still in a suit, uncomfortable shoes, a pressed shirt and a loosened tie. Jorgensen sings on the title track from the album, a line that could be the mantra for the entire record, "Once we were beautiful and the cracks were very small/But now things aren't as clean as we hoped they would be." Above the smooth, but sometimes unpredictable melodic meanderings, Jorgensen springs these dire, but sharp lines of acknowledged aging and we can't help but feel that there's still a lot left to believe in, even when the first few gray hairs start coming in around the temples. All might actually be golden.