Hanalei - One Big Night (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


One Big Night (2010)

Brick Gun / Big Scary Monsters

Brian Moss has been a busy man with his other projects, including reunion shows with his past band, the Ghost, and playing with a newer model of that sound in Olehole. So this album from Hanalei, One Big Night, has been a long time coming. Moss's last effort under the moniker, Parts and Accessories was released back in 2006; it was a more organic, folky response to his electro-pop-heavy debut, the occasionally captivating We Are All Natural Disasters. One Big Night definitely leans in favor of the more recent album in sound and scope, but Moss does take some of his earlier electronic tendencies into a lower-fidelity method here (as he recorded the lion's share of it on an internal laptop microphone), and manages to turn out a pleasant 35 minutes of the stuff in the process.

The opener and title track lets a simple, fuzzy electronic beat start to pace it halfway through, and it complements Moss's poignant and upbeat, lightly stylized folk melodies well. It's the first bit of proof that getting back to those ravaged growls in Olehole has not at all damaged his prettier, smoother delivery for Hanalei.

"Keep Digging" is an easy standout, although that might be because it reminds me a lot of Owen with some more subtle, skittering beats, and it seems to be recorded in more crisp conditions than the other tracks. Its premium quality is just about met by the precisely four-minute, beautifully balladic "Goodnight Moon."

But the less professional-sounding tracks (which is most of One Big Night), still sound pretty good and clear considering the conditions. "Scalpels and Saints" goes five minutes, but much of it travels with a really roomy, earthy quality with hard acoustic strums. The quick two minutes of "The Eighth Nerve" find a few voices singing along in unison so emphatically the recording gets a little grainy, but the heart is certainly palpable.

One Big Night doesn't quite overwhelm in the way some of Hanalei's earliest material managed to, but it's still an amiable and homey release that proves Moss remains an ably versatile songwriter as he as been for some time.

One Big Night