It’s been nearly a decade since Canadian post-hardcore icons Alexisonfire last released new music. In that time, the band has broken up in 2011, played a farewell tour the following year, and then reunited in 2015, continuing to play festival dates while repeatedly emphasizing that they were taking things slowly, with no immediate plans for new music. And with Dallas Green’s City and Colour project finding more success than ever, many fans have had little hope that new music would ever arrive.
When Hands Like Houses made their debut in 2012 with Ground Dweller on Rise Records, they immediately stood out. At the time, Rise’s roster of new signings was filled to the brim with dime-a-dozen metalcore bands that did little to distinguish their stereotypically angsty and melodramatic music from the then-dominant groups of the Warped Tour scene… or from each other. With their label dominated by so much sonic homogeny, it was downright refreshing to see Rise take a chance on an Australian sextet who flipped the script, crafting a progressive sound where sonic intricacy meshed with nuanced lyrical storytelling, a combination that could reach genuinely riveting heights.
When a band breaks up after a long and hugely successful career, a certain cluster of emotions usually comes to mind among fans: nostalgia for the years spent with their music; pride in their incredible accomplishments; and ultimately, acceptance that it is that band’s time to go. Yet a decidedly different feeling accompanies yesterday’s news that British progressive rock band Arcane Roots will be calling it quits. That’s not to say that the band’s music didn’t leave an incredible impact… to the contrary, they were one of the most breathtakingly original and captivating bands to grace progressive music in years. Yet the tragedy of their breakup at this particular moment is that this felt like a band which, for all their successes thus far, was just getting started.
Zayn Malik’s solo career since leaving the confines of One Direction has been a mixed bag, a display of massive potential mixed with some notable letdowns. The best tracks from his 2016 debut album Mind of Mine (mostly the ones produced by frequent collaborator Malay) adeptly drew inspiration from moody R&B stars like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean, while showcasing a phenomenal vocal ability and tinges of Zayn’s own Pakistani heritage. However, Zayn has occasionally let his aesthetic slip into generic pop-R&B background noise… while the Taylor Swift duet “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” was a massive hit, it perhaps best exemplified how Zayn could potentially have his uniqueness watered down by the major label pop machine, and slip into pop star anonymity.