There may simply not be enough synonyms in Roget’s Thesaurus to fully describe the beguiling charm, the harmonic exquisiteness and the lyrical depth of The Belle Sounds’ sound.
One could start by looking under the musical umbrella of Fleetwood Mac or The Weepies. That just might get you close. Or, better yet, head over to The Shins (as one Austin music critic related them to) or in the direction of the young Brooklyn band, The Spring Standards. But the fact, is, the Belle Sounds are always at their best when they sound most like The Belle Sounds.
Texas music icon Jon Dee Graham and his son William Harries Graham, who is following his father’s musical path, testified to both the band’s originality and its generational crossover appeal when they told The Belle Sounds, “No one is doing what you are doing”. The Austin Chronicle’s Michael Corcoran says, “The Belle Sounds are their own thing”. The Belle Sounds are unique, fresh and original, and simply need to be heard.
Noëlle Hampton (guitar/keys/vocals), André Moran (electric guitar), Emily Shirley (keys/guitar/synth/vocals) and Kris Nelson (bass/vocals), along with various talented drummers currently fill out the line up for this melodic, unique and evolving sound.
MUSICAL JOURNEY: Noëlle and André met 17 years ago in San Francisco and fell immediately in love. Hampton’s early career was a whirlwind of propulsion and media attention, and with André by her side on electric guitar, they opened for a number of major touring acts (Bob Dylan, Wilco, Chris Isaak etc), saw their songs placed in film and TV, and Noëlle appeared in the first iTunes commercial alongside such celebrated songwriters as Iggy Pop, Aimee Mann, Jeff Tweedy and Michael Penn.
A move to Austin, TX immersed the musical couple in Americana, but before long Hampton began to miss her indie/rock/pop roots. As her writing began to shift back to that more instinctive ground, they decided to create a new project to highlight this direction. The Belle Sounds made their first appearance in 2013.
BLACK STONE EP: On the heels of The Belle Sounds April 2013 eponymous debut release, recorded in East Nashville at Mr. Lemons Studio and produced by Neilson Hubbard, Hampton felt an even bigger shift in her songwriting and wanted to create a snapshot of the band in it’s current form, so they headed back up to record an EP with Hubbard, taking Kris and Emily with them.
Hampton explains, “It was a no brainer; Neilson is such a creative force, and works so quickly and efficiently, all the while making the experience a blast. He has amazing ears and comes up with some really cool out of the box ideas. We work really well as a team and speak the same language.”
The songs on Black Stone take the listener on a beautiful journey of wonder, mystery, trepidation and reflection, from California’s Mt. Tamalpais to Greek isles, from ghosts to golden boys, with a spooky homage of sorts to HBO’s Dexter. In “The Siren”, the band explores a collective and calming counterpoint to the chalkboard screeching noise of technology and the general overstimulation that seems to engulf us all these days, inspired by Ray Bradbury’s 1953 classic Fahrenheit 451. One can’t help but be swept away by “Ghost of Mykonos”, a tale of a bridegroom who came up missing on his Grecian honeymoon, never to be seen or heard of again, making full use of the band’s vocal mastery with their delicious and winsome “ooohs”. The EP concludes with Hampton’s sparse Erik Satie-infused atmospherics on piano in the beautiful song, “Drifter”, that echoes the ebb and flow of friendship.