#NewMusicFriday (August 4th 2023)

#NewMusicFriday (August 4th 2023)

The first #NewMusicFriday of August starts off with a bang as Skindred return with their first album in five years. While The Maine dropped a self-titled album earlier this week to mark 8123 day.

Elsewhere, L.A. rockers Teenage Wrist, and indie power-pop songwriter Chris Farren deliver new albums. When it comes to talking about up-and-coming acts, there are noteworthy releases from the eclectic M.A.G.S., Chicago pop-punks Wilmette, and melodic metallers Rituals.

If that’s not enough new music, there are also albums from Mammoth WVH, The Front Bottoms, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, as well as a live outing from Self Defense Family.

Skindred 2000trees

Skindred – Smile

In a live setting, Skindred are a pure delight yet have never considerably carried it over on record, at least consistently. But all that changes with ‘Smile’ as the Newport quartet have executed a sonically penetrating collection of signature reggae-rock.

Anthemic tracks such as ‘Gimme That Boom’‘If I Could‘, and ‘Addicted’ confidently stick to the tried and tested formula with the latter being an early bombastic standout. While ‘Set Fazers’ explodes with Benji Webb’s barking vocals and reggae-wrapped tongue. Lyrically, Webb uses his platform to spread positivity. Whether that’s on the razor-sharp rock of ‘Life That’s Free’ or the irresistible summer ska vibes of  ‘L.O.V.E. (Smile Please)’, the feelgood sincerity oozes through.

He’s also not afraid to inject some socio-political venom into his words. For example, Black Stars’ is a rallying call for change with a children’s choir being utilised alongside a heavy breakdown. ‘State of the Union’ and ‘Mama’ both thrive on a funky reggae vibe with the latter being a touching tribute to Webb’s tough upbringing.

‘Unstoppable’ closes the album, serving as a declaration that after 25 years together, Skindred aren’t slowing down anytime soon. ‘Smile’ highlights their diverse mix of sound and styles and is tightly packaged which avoids it from becoming a tiresome album.

Teenage Wrist. Photo Credit: Joe Calixto
Photo Credit: Joe Calixto

Teenage Wrist – Still Love

Now going out as a duo, Teenage Wrist‘s third full-length, ‘Still Love’ and sees Marshall Gallagher (guitar, vocals), and Anthony Salazar (drums) continue to evolve. While they’re still firmly able to execute impressive alt-rock/grunge aplenty on tracks such as ‘Dark Sky’  and the title track, there’s a more thoughtful element this time around. For example, ‘Something Good’ is a contemplative acoustic-leaning moment that hinders on stoner rock territory. Whereas ‘Wax Poetic’ embraces a dense shoegaze tempo.

On paper, ‘Still Love’s vast array of guest spots can be overwhelming yet the likes of SA Martinez, Softcult, Sister Void, and David Marion (Fear before the March of Flames) are utilised correctly. Never outstaying their welcome, songs such as ‘Cigarette Two Step’ (with David Marion), ‘Still Love’ (Softcult) or the aforementioned ‘Wax Poetic’ (Sister Void) are simply enhanced by their participation. In short, the spotlight stays on Gallagher and Salazar.

Nevertheless, for the expansive seeds planted, just like on the hazy acoustic-laden ‘Diorama’, ‘Still Love’ thrives on Teenage Wrist‘s alt-rock tendencies. ‘Humbug’ boasts big guitars with a shoegaze-drenced undercurrent and boisterous drums. ‘Digital Self’ is a hefty slab of grunge-rock with a lyrically modern twist. While ‘Sunshine’ contains a towering chorus with distorted riffing.

As an alt-rock record, there’s a lot to like about ‘Still Love’. Carried by plenty of bold, melodic hooks, Teenage Wrist subtly blends in swirling shoegaze with a considerably accessible brand of brash rock.

Photo Credit: Jon Stars

M.A.G.S. – Destroyer

Meet Elliott Douglas aka M.A.G.S. Growing up in a house immersed in music, it’s no surprise that his latest release, ‘Destroyer’, embraces an array of genres and styles. From the distorted indie-punk rumble on ‘Elephant’ to twinkling atmospherics on ‘Wednesday’ and the dizzying polyrhythmic of ‘Red Sky’, Douglas executes and explores a range of sounds, yet it’s still cohesively delivered.

Threaded together by Douglas’ sincere and soulful tongue, he’s able to create an insightful narrative dominated by emotional turmoil. Whether that’s questioning faith on explosive emo banger ‘Sins’ and its power-chord driving chorus, or dealing with ADHD on ‘Elephant’M.A.G.S. is equally musically and lyrically complex.

As songs such as ‘Supermoon’‘Sins’, and ‘Floyd’ show, Douglas is able to provide stellar melodies while maintaining his stylistic diversity. Overall, he’s able to produce a compelling package that weaves in various influences, making for an effective record rooted in a punk ethos.

Photo Credit: Alex Zarek

Wilmette – Hyperfocused

Following on from a long production line of Chicago pop-punk bands, Wilmette make their full-length debut with ‘Hyperfocused.

Comfortably relying on the tested recipe of radiant pop hooks and boisterous musicianship, the Illinois five-piece clearly don’t have any intention of reinventing the genre but that’s not to say that Wilmette should be immediately written off. From the outset, tracks such as ‘ No Conviction’ and Hyperfocused’ have an irresistible and catchy quality. ‘I Don’t Even Want To Be Around Anymore’ is a stringent and fun slice with strong vocals from Aaron Hailey. While ‘Playing Dead’ is delivered with a heavier edge, leaning on a hardcore influence.

It’s clear Wilmette are more than willing to embrace the pop-punk tag. For example, ‘Circa ’99’ is a nostalgic nod to the bands before them before ‘No One Know’ and ‘Sunflower’ showcases their punchier side. However, by the time you reach ‘Out Of My Hands’, it’s clear the quintet are somewhat restricted by being tied down to the genre.

With Seth Henderson (State Champs, Knuckle Puck) on production duty, Wilmette are in safe hands yet tonally suffers by lacking a distinctive sound.‘ Hyperfocused’ is able to highlight Wilmette‘s pop-punk qualities with ease yet if you’re looking for variation, you won’t find it here.

What is out on #NewMusicFriday?

Skindred – Smile
The Maine – The Maine
Chris Farren – Doom Singer
Teenage Wrist – Still Love
Mammoth WVH – Mammoth II
Self Defense Family – Law Of Karma Live: Fake Shit Wins But Not Tonight
The Front Bottoms – You Are Who You Hang Out With
M.A.G.S. – Destroyer
Rituals – I Found Myself in the Dark
Wilmette – Hyperfocused
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam – Mortuary Pantomime
Any Given Sin – War Within
Darknet – [Self-titled 2]
Slackrr – Set The Night On Fire
An Autumn for Crippled Children – Closure
Left To Suffer

If you think I’ve missed something or have a new album/EP/song to tell us about, tell us about it here.

If you’re looking for the latest tracks focusing on rock, punk, hardcore, metal, emo, and everything in between, then check out our ‘Newish Music’ playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.


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