Tunes of the Time: Alfred Hall and The Royal Streets

by Hanna Duenkel

“Alfred Hall EP” by Alfred Hall

One of my discoveries over our extended winter break was the wonderful Norwegian duo Alfred Hall.  Immediately, I started streaming their music and fell in love with their quiet voices and synthesized guitar, a style which can be described as a lighthearted form of indie pop.  Currently, many European artists are dominating the indie pop genre and are adding a classic flare to modern music.  Most of Alfred Hall’s music hasn’t been released in North America, but you can check out their self-titled EP on iTunes, Spotify, and Soundcloud, which includes four tracks: “Safe & Sound,” “Someplace Beautiful,” “Wild at Heart,” and “Foreign Coast.”  Each track has slight undertones of an acoustic guitar, so if you listen close enough, you can hear the quiet, repetitive riffs that characterize each song.  In all of their songs, their voices are soft, almost lulling you to sleep, so their music is not the kind that you would sing along to while driving.  Even though their voices are clearly audible, it’s hard to pick up and learn their lyrics, since the vocals are supposed to be in the background instead of the instruments.  My personal favorite song by the duo is “Foreign Coast,” because its airy feel is exactly how I imagine Norway: like a fairy tale.  If you liked Alfred Hall’s self-titled EP, then check out “Weathervanes and Chemicals” by Team Me, which features another soft-voiced singer and unique instrumentals.

“Story Weekend” by The Royal Streets

I’d heard of The Royal Streets before, whether it was from Twitter or from a friend’s recommendation, I’m not really sure, but the name sounded familiar.  After a quick search on Spotify, I found their recently released EP “Story Weekend” and decided to give them a try.  This may have been one of the best musical decisions of my life.  The Royal Streets is a Waterloo, Ontario based band that packs a sharp punch with their coffeehouse tones.  Most of their music is acoustic and their lead singer has an incredible raspy voice that blends smoothly with the instruments, adding an almost bluesy feel to the lyrics.  “Story Weekend” is made up of three beautifully crafted songs:  “Sour Diesel,” “Clear Bottle View,” and “Story Weekend,” with each song having a feeling of its own.  “Sour Diesel” has a feel that fluctuates between gritty and mellow, with lyrics that make you want to hum, if not sing along, while the lead singer belts out his notes between clearly formulated guitar riffs.  While “Sour Diesel” starts off with an acoustic sound, it ends with a long, static filled electric guitar riff.  “Clear Bottle View” is the longest song of the EP, running 5 minutes and 10 seconds of quick, conversational verses between the two singers with large instrumentals running most of the song.  It starts off soft and gains speed quickly, so you can’t even tell that the song runs five minutes.  The final song, “Story Weekend,” tops the EP off nicely, adding an extra layer of depth to the band.  “Story Weekend” is something that you can sing along to, belting out the chorus and swaying along with the beat of the music.  Since The Royal Streets mainly performs in Waterloo and London, Ontario, it would definitely be worth seeing them in concert, if not for their incredible music, but to experience their unique style of folk-rock live and in the flesh.  If you liked listening to The Royal Streets, try listening to their cover of “Home,” originally sung by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.  The cover gives the widely known and covered song a beautiful recreation, with the creative decision to lower pitches instead of raise them when the lyrics are belted.