Arriving early to the LP release of JP Haynie’s latest, The Sand, I had a sufficient amount of time to build up anticipation of the performance. Participating in awkward pre-show small talk during a band’s set up is not my forté, so I was delighted once the show began with grooves from Andrew Aguilera’s solo project, Mooninite. His set laid out some exciting experimentation, with his project expanding on the nostalgia of an ’80s synth-pop era. As the moniker suggests, Mooninite pays homage to the creatures that hail from the inner core of the moon, and Aguilera definitely wields that characterization in his music. With sound samples of recognizable, computer-fuzz noise, the set gave off a feeling of listening to a live performance of a video-game soundtrack. Aquilera’s sounds channeled a type of funky science fiction sound that’s equal parts nostalgic with a futuristic element that embraces the technologies of our modern age, while still maintaining a naturalistic influence. Besides all that, it was a performance that got the crowd bopping and swaying in their planted spots.
Up next came the band Ben Best, who surprised me with a pleasing compilation of what I’d like to label as western-country-indie-slow jams. What I was most happy to see was that the band was not composed of a simple guitarist, bass player and drummer, but was joined by a plentitude of instruments along with performing a duet with vocalist Lauren Smith. The band maintained a good balance of establishing melodies while leading those notes into a solid conclusion. This is the kind of Americana folk that I prefer to see, and if you have a soft spot for the Great Lake Swimmers, they’re definitely a band worth looking into.
Concluding the night with songs from his new LP, The Sand, JP Haynie was joined on stage with bandmates Nate Housley on bass, Greg Wilson on guitar, Danny Orme on drums and Denny Fuller on the trumpet. Starting out the night with the song “Family River” joined JP’s son, Alf, aptly adding his baby talk lyrics on the side in such a cute baby way that generated huge smiles around the crowd. Instead of being a cry-baby or a distraction, Alf actually added to the comfort of the familial atmosphere that became present throughout the evening.
Using a microphone on his guitar as well as for his vocals made the guitar strums equal to the lyrics. By performing with a band this time (as opposed to playing his usual acoustic sets), it added a welcome depth to the show. I was impressed with the performance and how well his new songs on the LP pair with a desert topography. As dry, bare and bright as the desert is, it simultaneously provides a kind of solitude conducive to spiritual epiphanies along with comfort amid self and family. References to the desert throughout gave a synesthetic level to the listening experience as the minimalistic tunes coincided with that quiet emptiness of the desert scenery.
Keeping with the Americana sounds, the muted trumpet and nominal bass lines sounded like a variety on a mariachi band, but only if that mariachi band were to skip the celebratory songs and choose to sing lullabies instead. This kind of Mexican folk was perfect for using musical ideas that go along with a Southwestern melody. The songs were soothing and coupled well with poetic lyrics that avoided clichés and generic themes.
With vibrant colors and artwork done by Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie and The Microphones, the record comes paired with a songbook and a free digital download. You can find these tunes at jphaynie.bandcamp.com, and I’d definitely recommend catching a live performance.