When Minneapolis musician, Ryan Olson masterminded Gayngs I’m sure he had no idea the project would become such a massive super group. The group’s debut album features appearances from members of Solid Gold, Megafun, the Rosebuds, Bon Iver, P.O.S., Dessa, Leisure Birds, Happy Apple, and Lookbook among others. With a Robert Altman’s Nashville sized cast Its easy to think that the album would suffer from “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome but the fact is Gayngs manages to make a fairly cohesive album. The album dabbles in genres like trip-hop, downtempo, shoegaze, r&b, and experimental without committing to anyone exclusively.
The group was born out of Olson’s rough demo for “the Gaudy Side of Town”. The track wrangled in the album’s first contributors. The track in its full form now opens the album. The seven-minute track starts off with Tom Waits-esque beat boxing and various amp noises. That would seem that the track is placing its hat into the experimental ring, but then the drums start. The drums remind me of Thievery Corporation; they are firmly rooted in the chillout genre. The music that accompanies the drum continue the chill feel. There is some smooth jazz-style saxophone and some psychedelic guitars but the track’s real triumph is the vocals. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon provides the track’s air r&b vocals. His vocals are somewhere between George Michael and Justin Timberlake. Where Gayngs succeeds is identifying a weakness in the indie scene. The indie scene had Har Mar Superstar but after several disappointing albums, its time for a new quasi-r&b star to emerge. Although Gayngs is not just one man but a collective, the group proves that Justin Vernon could be singing hooks on hip hop tracks.
Not every track is as strongly based in r&b as the lead single. “Cry” is a cover of UK pop duo Godley & Creme‘s 1985 hit. The super slowed down cover bares strong resemblance Massive Attack‘s “Teardrop” except with low vocals that sounds like a pop song has been chopped and screwed. The chopped and screwed sounding vocals continue with “No Sweat”. P.O.S. provides a low croon for the track that sound like Michael McDonald mixed with Calvin Johnson.
With each song written to a drum beat of 69 BPMs, all I could think while listen to the album was “I bet this album is even better while sippin on sizzurp”. Besides the lame slow jokes I could make, the album is actually a very well written. The tracks hold their base in pop music with some experimental musings that make it irresistible. Though I can not pretend that everyone will enjoy an album this passive, its a perfect album to put on and chill to.
MP3: Gayngs “The Gaudy Side of Town”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!