Dust City Opera – Stars
Jeff Buckley’s Grace has caused more singing lessons to be booked than failed auditions to join L.A. Guns Mk. VII. The control, the subtle hints of opera, the melodrama and the soulfulness of Buckley’s singing were the singing equivalent to Eddie van Halen introducing tapping and dive bombs to the unsuspecting legion of guitarists still trying to learn Iron Man.
No doubt that his music has left a mark. Grace is not famous enough to be overplayed, thankfully. But, from Chris Cornell’s Euphoria Morning, Matt Bellamy’s style of singing and even, dare I say it, Coldplay’s early work, other vocalists have referenced the style.
Finding someone competent enough is not easy. I swear to God that if I hear one more soap opera rendition of Hallelujah, I will just… Let’s just say that finding someone capable of pulling those vocal acrobatics off and adding the necessary amount of panache is quite a find.
That’s why I’m excited to have heard Dust City Opera’s Stars. Paul Hunton, the singer of the group, possesses the sort of pipes that, should the world be swallowed up by the oceans, will allow him to be able to hold his breath until the next alien invasion.
Stars is a melancholy-filled folk-rock tune that harkens back to the aforementioned Euphoria Morning. Like that album, it’s quite a gem.
Elbé – Only You
I will be the first to admit that “alternative” and “indie” are blanket terms that seem to mean everything to everyone. Did it take me years of running a website called Alt77 to learn this? No, I hinted at this from the start.
Yet, with no other better solutions to number them, or file them through some elaborate colour system, using these genre designators seems a pretty nifty solution. Record labels are also pretty happy with the system since, long before YouTube and Spotify suggestions, it helped them suggest more of the same to the public holding shiny bills, or cards in their hands.
Indie rock and alternative seemed to mean much the same thing at some point. Then, in the eyes of many, the two split based on fashion and level of education. Alt-rock bands tend to dress like farmers, indie-rockers seem to opt for fashionable attire, or clothes handed them through generations. Indie-rockers sound like they’ve attended a few college classes recently, alt-rockers barely have a driver’s license and a graduate’s degree in between the band members.
By those definitions, Elbé certainly fit into the first category. Only you is a gentle, modern piece of pop-rock. The acoustic guitars and drums are there to add layers to the production. The song leads towards a chorus that jumps but doesn’t quite explode. And, the vocals expertly recorded making the song fit to be played on the radio, as much as at the trendy downtown bar… with safe distancing in place, of course.