Synth-pop quintet The Belle Sounds have been called “one of the best pop bands in Austin” (Austin American Statesman), “Best New Band” (Austin Chronicle) and have their own day named after them in their hometown, but the band and it’s husband-wife core of Noëlle Hampton and André Moran have never been content to rest on their laurels.
2020 saw them releasing one song per month and making good use of the grant awarded to them by Black Fret by creating videos and new content. Additionally, their work garnered them a coveted spot on The Austin American Statesman’s Best of 2020 list, a KUTX Song Of The Day and a placement in the popular Netflix show, Outer Banks. Hampton and Moran’s musical partnership has yielded incredible opportunities onstage too, like playing The Lilith Fair stage and more recently, Bruce Hornsby at Kirk Watson’s Under The Stars Benefit in Zilker Park.
All the accolades are due to an ever evolving lineup and sound, now rich with lush soundscapes intertwined with effervescent harmonies and poignant lyricism. All the swirling guitar sounds and layered synths are anchored by a reverence for good old fashioned hooks, a trait they share in common with their influences, which range from harmony-driven bands like Fleetwood Mac to 80s synth-pop icons, up to the current sounds of Nu-Disco and Alt-Pop.
While the creative duties are the domain of songwriter/producer Hampton and producer/engineer Moran, they are joined by longtime band members Emily Shirley (keys/vocals) with Jim Echels (drums) and Greg Hagen (bass/vocals).
Noëlle and André met at a club in their then-home of San Francisco and it was love at first sight. Their personal and artistic chemistry flowed abundantly, so playing together came naturally and they quickly landed song placements and slots opening for everyone from Wilco, Chris Isaak and Pat Benatar to the great Bob Dylan on top of being featured in the very first iTunes commercial along with Iggy Pop, Jeff Tweedy, Ziggy Marley and Aimee Mann.Though the duo had considerable success playing their own brand of Americana both in California and their adopted hometown of Austin, where they moved in the early 2000s, Hampton yearned to create music inspired by her 70s/80s pop leanings and so The Belle Sounds was born in 2013. The band released an eponymous first album, then the EP Black Stone, followed by 2018’s The Sea Within. The recent releases are introspective journeys through Hampton’s inner psyche. “The difference between our woes and other professions is that we get to write our anger, sadness, love, fear and everything else into song. It's the best therapy ever.” Praise for the group’s new sound began to roll in, including admiration for their “brilliant atmospheric guitar soundscapes” (Austin American Statesman) and “soaring synth and vocal harmonies” (Glide Magazine).
Instead of taking a breather during the pandemic, Noëlle dove deep into creating music, culminating in the release of 12 singles, compiled into a Bandcamp album titled, Stay Alive- The 2020 Singles. She took advantage of the extra time and isolation the lockdown provided to work on her production skills which led to the band’s more current glossy indie pop sound. Tapping into André’s years of engineering and production experience, the couple fine tuned each track, showing once again what great chemistry can do. Multiple videos followed, including the stunning animation/live concept video collaboration with local sultry jazz crooner Seela Misra for their single, “NOW YOU SEE ME.”
With a history rich with accomplishments and growth under their belts, 2021 looks to be another whirlwind year for The Belle Sounds with an EP scheduled for summer release and the band eager to showcase new material live. They kick off another year of stellar live performances at 3TEN Austin City Limits Live with Johnny Goudie on June 25th.
"Light It Up" Single Release:
"It’s been a surprisingly short amount of time since singer Noëlle Hampton and guitarist André Moran first met in San Francisco, became partners in marriage and songwriting, and moved to Austin as The Belle Sounds. And it’s just as impressive that in the five years since then they’ve become a treasured indie pop rock mainstay, to the point that the City of Austin has declared April 13th as “The Belle Sounds Day”.
Now equipped with some at-home digital production software and producer Danny Reisch (Shearwater, David Ramirez, Erika Wennerstrom), The Belle Sounds are venturing further into the pop realm, while still retaining the vivid soundscapes and infectious harmonies that made us fall in love with them in the first place."
- Jack Anderson- KUTX
The Belle Sounds, “The Sea Within.”
"Centered around singer-songwriter Noelle Hampton and guitarist Andre Moran, the Belle Sounds have become one of Austin’s best pop bands since forming five years ago. “The Sea Within” has been a long time coming: Their last release was a 2014 EP that followed 2013’s self-titled debut. Working with producer David Boyle at his Church House Studio in East Austin, the band recorded 11 original songs that reach back to the classic sounds of 1970s FM radio, an approach that stands out today precisely because they’re not trying to board the indie bandwagon. The album’s title comes from the mesmerizing track “Innsaei,” an Icelandic word that translates to “the sea within” but connotes a deeper, zen-like sense of intuition and empathy. This is a very well-constructed and sequenced record: Five tracks build up, and then down, from “Legend of the Silver Moon,” a masterful eight-minute centerpiece that luxuriates in Moran’s brilliant atmospheric guitar soundscapes. Throughout, contributions from keyboardists Boyle and Emily Shirley, bassists John Michael Schoepf and Kris Nelson, drummer Evan Hutchings and cellist Brian Standefer make “The Sea Within” sound very much like a band record, not simply a duo project." - Peter Blackstock (Austin 360) 7/19/18
“ Absolutely fantastic! It’s fucking awesome-super dreamy!” Johnny Goudie (musician/songwriter/How Did I Get Here podcaster)
“Excellent record! Every song is good. A superior recording. Everything on this record is just placed perfectly.” Tom Tranchilla (musician/songwriter/DJ on KPFT Houston)
“Austin’s The Belle Sounds are back with a new gripping album that weaves together everything from overcoming some of the weaker points of the human condition, and the struggle to take on others.” - KUTX (Austin, TX)
The soaring synth and vocal harmonies for the chorus definitely give the song a Fleetwood Mac vibe, but The Belle Sounds take things in their own direction as they craft their own dark and jagged pop sound.
- Glide Magazine 6/6/18
“KUTX is proud to premiere their latest music video “Like A Villain,” a stunning, all-visual vignette and an absolute playground of textures to evoke the duality of anxiety-driven suffocation and the strength found from putting that baby in the corner.” - KUTX (Austin,TX)
Needless to say, The Belle Sounds are a group well worth knowing – especially as they gear up to release their highly anticipated sophomore album. The Sea Within is, as its name suggests, a provocative exploration of internal turbulence full of introspection and emotion. Finely balancing darkness and light, “Like a Villain” exemplifies the band’s depth with an intimate portrayal of anxiety and inner strife.
Hampton’s incredibly moving words speak volumes to the intensity that is “Like a Villain”: The band set out to make a statement with this video, and they ended up with a true work of art. “Like a Villain” explores some of our darkest personal spaces, unearthing our innate fragility and emotional extremes. It’s a think-piece, a conversation-starter, and a defining moment for an emerging rock band as they prepare to burst out of Austin. - Mitch Most (Atwood Magazine)
It’s tempting to draw parallels between Belle Sounds and Fleetwood Mac, given the triple-threat interplay between band leader Noelle Hampton, masterfully atmospheric guitarist Andre Moran and keyboardist-vocalist Emily Shirley. They play sophisticated pop originals and have a great rapport with the audience."
- Peter Blackstock - Austin360
"Helmed by superb songstress Noëlle Hampton, The Belle Sounds navigate the difficult divide between seductive folk pop and the sterling accessibility that successfully prevents them from ever becoming too self-absorbed."
- Lee Zimmerman/No Depression