Retro-minded indie rockers have already mined almost every other era of pop history, and so many are now exploring late-’70s soft rock. You know the stuff: melodic, expertly produced, and oddly impersonal — Hall and Oates, REO Speedwagon, Supertramp. Often this exploration shows up as irony and humor: mustaches, cheesy saxophone solos, that kind of thing. When people first started calling the music “yacht rock,” it was not meant as a compliment. But increasing numbers of otherwise-respectable musicians are turning to this style with tongue decidedly not in cheek.
I’m still not sure whether the Minneapolis band Gayngs is joking or not. The band is sort of a supergroup, featuring as many as 25 musicians, including members of Bon Iver, Har Mar Superstar, Megafaun, Doomtree, and various other Midwestern acts. The band debuted last year with Relayted, which features sultry saxophones, mellow vocals, and tempos that rarely go faster than 69 bpm. One of its standout tracks is a cover of “Cry” by Godley & Creme, a song that felt like the last gasp of soft rock when it came out in 1985. (Gayngs even made a video recreating Godley & Creme’s original MTV hit.)
In concert, Gayngs has been known to cover “Eye in the Sky” by the Alan Parsons Project, which is something of a yacht-rock anthem. But much of the material on Relayted is too weird and arty to belong on a playlist alongside Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” This raises a question: Is Gayngs trying and failing to be the new Christopher Cross, or is Gayngs just joking around with yacht rock on the way to something stranger?
Jamuel Saxon also performs.
GAYNGS: The Casbah, Saturday, June 4, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $15 advance; $17 day of show.