A good song is comparable to a fine wine: it’s smooth, memorable, easy to digest, and has that certain “je ne sais quoi” that makes it stand out among the flock. New York-based troupe Mitchell Grey managed to create this moment not only for a single track, but for a collection of cuts for their debut album, On The Stellar Way, which they recorded and released on their own.
It is impossible for artists to dodge their musical inspirations and create tracks that are entirely unique. However, what makes musicians truly thrive and shine is how they compile idols and influences to make something refreshing and new for listeners to hear.
Throughout the debut opus, Mitchell Grey blends the effortlessness of soul, pure emotion of alternative/indie and even a hint of Latin flair. But listeners learn that this mutation of tastes and styles is the sheer essence of Ryan Bandong (vocals), Joseph Diaz (guitar), Napon Pintong (bass) and Matt Pana (drums)—not an effort to win listeners.
On The Stellar Way breaks out with “Phosphenes.” Acting as a solid introductory to the rest of the album’s eclectic musical framework, the track is filled with lush harmonies, a hearty combination of catchy pop melodies, and a rocking power chorus. As Bandong and Diaz play tag between vocal phrases and lead guitar solos during the bridge, it’s evident that there’s a musical banter and understanding fueled by sheer chemistry. This form of creation can’t be made on a whim. Rather, it’s similar to the big bang: natural, phenomenal and explosive.
“Heartstrings”—the album’s first single—has a fun, alternative pop flair, similar to Third Eye Blind in their best years. With lyrics like “As sweet as the sky looks empty/I’d like to see a cloud or two/Just to watch them drift away/To know my world ain’t standing still,” the song has the perfect mix of poignancy and promise.
While the band’s single touches on the more pop-inspired side of Mitchell Grey, “Vampire Voltage” brings a bit of spiciness into the mix, with a Latin-tinged flow and Santana-inspired swagger. Throughout the rest of the album, the quartet takes listeners on a journey of smooth rock and R&B (“Monster”); soul (“Keep On!”); pop rock (“The Racers”); and acoustic (“Inamorata”). And throughout these genre-bending twists and turns, Mitchell Grey serves these tracks with earnestness, eagerness and precision.