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.
After a nearly decade-long career which saw them amass a devoted following in the progressive post-hardcore scene, A Lot Like Birds officially called it quits earlier this year. Since the band played their final show last month at Sacramento’s First Fest, there has been rampant speculation about what creative endeavors each of the band members would turn their sights to next. And perhaps the most attention of all has been paid to the future of the band’s primary vocalist and lyricist, Cory Lockwood.
The well-worn cliche is that the most potent art is borne out of adversity. Unforunately, when it comes to the world of music, albums stemming from certain forms of adversity have a mixed track record. Bands that go through periods of lineup changes or interpersonal conflict may immediately bounce back and produce more music deserving of their past status. However, just as often a band will falter following a major lineup change, and lose a key part of their identity along the way.
Belle Noire, the talented progressive rock band from San Jose who impressed listeners in 2016 with their debut album What It Means To Be, are back with a name change, new label, and new single. The group is now known as BELLE, and they have just signed to Tragic Hero Records, while also releasing their new single “Reverence”. The song marks an evolution from their debut, with growing use of subtle textures and electronic flourishes to compliment Joey Lancaster’s soaring vocals and passionate lyricism. Stay tuned for more from BELLE, who just wrapped a run of shows supporting Emery and ’68!