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Standout Track: “On a Western Coast,” a wiry, wistful, cosmic country-rock anthem a few degrees to the left of the Bakersfield sound. Keyboardist Jason Hutto, a veteran of The Aquarium and a member of Soccer Team, steps forward to take lead vocals, reflecting on a road trip that marked a turning point in his own life. The song makes up half of a single that Warm Sun—which also includes Basla Andolsun and Devin Ocampo of Beauty Pill and Renata Burger—released amid January’s heavy snowfall. “I said, ‘You know, we have these two songs in the can, people are home, let’s put it online. As far as that goes it was a pretty good success,” says Hutto, an Alexandria resident. “Now we’re stuck with this thing called Blizzard and we’re headed into spring.”
Musical Motivation: While Hutto has “a nostalgia for a certain ’70s-style country rock”—the Gram Parsons vibe, basically—when he joined Warm Sun about two years ago, he brought his Roland synthesizer. “I came from other bands playing ’80s synthesizers, which is what I always loved.” It didn’t click with Warm Sun’s “classic-rock setup,” Hutto says—the synth was cold, while Ocampo’s guitar style, honed in bands like Faraquet, Medications, and his present trio The Effects, has a distinctively warm feel, Hutto says. So Hutto sold some gear and bought a compact Hammond organ. The sound is “full church organ,” he says. “It kind of reminds me of the cool Saturday Night Live band. You know, the classic setups you’d see on that show. They didn’t need to have a synthesizer. They’d go classic.”
California Screamin’: “On a Western Coast” is “very much the story of how I ended up in this town,” Hutto says, but it starts in California, at the tale end of a trip he took there after college with his family, when he could only afford to take “half a dose,” as he sings, of his anxiety medication. He ended up passing on a cousin’s offer to stay out west, something he regretted as his family drove home to Arkansas. “I let my fears keep me from committing to a life-changing event,” he says—so when another offer, to move to D.C. with a former roommate, popped up not long after, he seized it. That’s the point in the narrative where “On a Western Coast” blossoms into its clanging, shimmery climax, with Hutto yelping, “The world in a rock ‘n’ roll show, I had to scream about it/Hey! We want you. We like you.” According to Hutto, “it ends up being a song about inclusion…people want to feel accepted and part of something. For me it was D.C. punk rock and rock ’n’ roll that helped me be the person I am today.”