Favorited ex.fm Songs

Friday, February 11, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Hanalei

Hanalei is a hard band/artist to write about because he/they is/are hard to follow. How's that for a coherent sentence?

My roommate my freshman year of college, Todd, introduced me to Hanalei. Todd was from Chicago and a pretty big music fan. He was probably one of the biggest influences in shaping what I listen to today, which I am immensely thankful for. It took me a while to realize that Hanalei wasn't an artist that most people, or really hardly anybody knew about. Hanalei is by far the least listened to of the artists I have written about so far. A quick check of Last.fm band pages shows that Hanalei has a total of around 3,000 listeners. This is 10 times smaller than Joe Pug (the next least listened to artist I've covered) and anywhere from 100 to 400 times smaller than every other artist. The band's MySpace page is rarely updated and information regarding tours or releases are hard to come by. Sometimes I worry that the band will break up and I just won't find out about it.

Hanalei started as a solo project by Chicago-area musician Brian Moss. The first album, We Are All Natural Disasters, was filled with acoustic guitar mixed with electronic elements from a laptop. It isn't really the same as The Postal Service album, but I've seen the comparisons made. That album was my introduction to Hanalei, and I loved it. At some point after that, Moss moved to California and added members, turning Hanalei from an indie pop solo project to a indie rock/alt country collaboration that resulted in the band's second album, Parts and Accessories. The change in sound caught me off guard since I had fallen in love with We Are All Natural Disasters, but the new album grew on me more and more and eventually I found that I actually liked it better than its predecessor. Around the time I realized that, I heard that the band had disbanded, and it was returning to a solo project. Last year, Hanalei released their third album, this time another solo album, called One Big Night. It is currently my least favorite of the three, but like the others, the more I listen, the more it seems to grow on me.

I really wish Hanalei had a bigger following. Brian Moss is a wonderful lyricist (one of my favorites at coming up with good lines), and the music is pretty fantastic on its own. Hopefully he/they will find a bit more of a following at some point, so that Hanalei doesn't just disappear like so many other talented bands that never gain traction. I really can't recommend We're All Natural Disasters and Parts and Accessories enough. Both albums are available from Amazon for $8.99.

Since information about the band is hard to come by (which is made harder by the band name being the same as a region in Hawaii), good videos are no different, but here is a video of possibly my favorite song on the second album. It is called "Resonate Remain":

To finish the post, below are a few of my favorite lines from Hanalei songs:

I lock all the doors when I sleep
You always find a way to break in
My tired eyes, they don't wanna trace your face
You always find a way to make them

-MLK, You're OK

The buildings, they are so tired of the lives inside
Eternal tenants of sedated dreams
Communicate this through the radiator hiss
The creak in the floorboards and bad pipes


Up on the Oregon coastline, where the forest kisses the sea
Laid back on the backwoods backroad is where I'll, it's where I'll be
Off the map and under the stars, running in the redwoods, getting caught in the rain
Out of the rat race and into the good life, where it's beautiful oh and it is plain

-Better Days

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