Four years ago, Dust City Opera performed its first show.
Flash forward to today and the band has released its sophomore album, “Alien Summer” and is gearing up for a release party at the Historic Lobo Theater on March 18. The album was released on March 4.
“I always wanted to see the band perform a sold-out show at a cool venue,” says Paul Hunton. “Seeing the band’s name in the marquee outside the theater gives me chills.”
Hunton is one of the driving forces within Dust City Opera. He is joined by Clara Byom, Travis Rourk, Chris Livingston, Scott Brewer and Dave Purcell.
The band worked on the album for nearly three years. Hunton is the main songwriter and vocalist of the band.
“I feel good about most of them,” he says with a laugh. “When we made the order of the album, the songs really popped. I felt like I had a new appreciation for hearing them.”
The band’s debut album, “Heaven,” appealed to audiences because of its honesty.
When Dust City Opera decided to make a second album, they launched a crowdfunding campaign in late 2021 to finalize the record. Their goal was fully funded with nearly $21,000 raised in less than a month. In no time the band was in the studio with producer Matthew Tobias.
Musically, the sound expanded with cinematic flourishes and a grandiose backdrop befitting of the record’s overarching themes. The instrumentation stitched together the sonic framework.
“The orchestral influence distinguishes the sound,” Rourk says. “Clara and I go way back to the University of New Mexico in 2013. Now, we’ve added the horns to make a strange mix. It’s a really dynamic experience.”
Byom says the continuity of the clarinet and trombone gives the album cohesion.
After teasing out the album with “An Okay Way To Go,” “It,” “Tile or Linoleum” and “Stars,” the band kicked off 2022 with the single and opener “The Unkind.”
” ‘The Unkind’ paints a picture of trees uprooting themselves over a Halloween dance vibe,” Hunton says. “They tear apart this town and murder everyone. It’s a killer plant race that comes out of hibernation once in a generation for a night of horror. They prey on humanity and go back to sleep.”
Soft strains of acoustic guitar bleed through Hunton’s hypnotically haunting delivery on the title track “Alien Summer.”
” ‘Alien Summer’ is about inner-alien DNA waking up and ripping through your skin,” Hunton says. “While I was writing it, there was definitely a lot of anxiety in the air during 2020. It’s an escapist fantasy, but there’s a lot of tension. Lyrically, it’s another sci-fi horror story. Travis and Clara bring out an old-world vibe like they’re harking back to a Roma curse. They give the songs character.”
“Angie” remains a standout and is the current single. Hunton says it was conceived in a remote cabin and it explores a different kind of isolation.
“It’s about a guy on his deathbed,” Hunton says. “He’s having a hallucinatory death trip. During the trip, he revisits parts of his life and walks through his memory. It’s all stripped away as he loses consciousness. He has the impression of a woman named Angie, but the memories have disappeared. He keeps looking for her, but she’s the last concrete impression to go. It’s goodbye.”