#NewMusicFriday: June 14th 2024

june 14th #newmusicfriday

While a sea of rock and metal fans are descending on Donington this weekend for the Download Festival, that doesn’t mean there are no new releases. Far from it, this week’s round sees some impressive releases including doom-riddled post-metal from REZN, and returning efforts from emo-rockers The Early November and Annabel. While the debut album from NY melodic hardcore mob, ‘Stand Still’, is worth a listen.

Japanese post-rock specialists MONO deliver their 12th album in the form of ‘OATH’. While Julie Christmas returns with her first solo record in over a decade. There are also new releases from FangclubThe Decemberist, Hockey Dad, The LaFontaines, Fu Manchu, and Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies.


REZN – Burden

Following on from four self-released albums, Chicago quartet REZN are the latest name to join the impressive Sargent House (The Armed, Russian Circles, Brutus) roster. And it’s easy to see why as their doom-laden blend of psychedelia, prog rock, and shoegaze is a snuggly fits. Their label debut, ‘Burden’is a textures adventure utilising dark atmospheric traits to their advantage.

From the opening moments of the lingering ‘Indigo’REZN‘s sound broods away in rapturous reverb, Phil Cangelosi’s warbling bass, and Rob McWilliams’ hypnotic harmonies. ‘Instinct’ maintains the gloomy vibe as McWilliams’ guitar notes reach out for the light, yet it’s the sludgy riffs that paint a dark, cavernous picture that you can’t help but get lost in.

Recorded alongside last year’s ‘Solace’ record, ‘Burden’ contrasts the former’s uplifting tone, opting for themes of delirium, claustrophobia, and misery. As ‘Descent of Sinuous Corridors’ atmospherics segue into ‘Bleak Patterns’, mesmerising Middle Eastern guitars, and spacey synths capture a feeling of disillusion. This is accentuated by McWilliams’ deep, foreboding guitar chords, creating a sense of dark despair. It undoubtedly thrives in its fuzzy doom skin, trudging along for an addictive seven minutes. Likewise, ‘Collapse’ early on delivers mountainous riffs before Spencer Ouellette’s synth work takes it in another direction. McWilliams’ distant vocals float along briefly before being stopped by Cangelosi’s rumbling bass and deep guitars.

While REZN are capable of delivering forlorn riffs, it is songs like ‘Soft Prey’ that put emphasis on their atmospheric and structural ability. Sitting firmly in the prog rock sphere, reverberating guitars paint a hazy desert-covered picture of comfort before Ouellette succulently brings out the saxophone.

As ‘Soft Prey’s final haunting notes are whisked away into the distance, you’re suddenly awakened by ‘Chasm’s shadowy presence. Thick chugging guitars firmly stand their ground as McWilliams realises the disillusion that’s riddled him throughout ‘Burden’ is all in his mind. While Mike Sullivan of Russian Circles turning up for a scorching guitar solo for good measure.

As a distorted wall of white noise rips through the final seconds, you come out at the end of a grim yet compelling journey. One that you’re happy to experience again, no matter how despairing ‘Burden’s seven songs are. REZN brilliantly conjure up a feeling of existential dread through their bold and layered sound and is executed with accuracy. Beautifully bleak but thoroughly compulsive.

Annabel Photo Credit: Samantha Marquette

Annabel – Worldviews

Returning with their first record in a decade, Annabel‘s fourth album sees brothers Ben and Andy Hendricks in a contemplative mood. ‘Worldviews’ is a fitting title as it allows the siblings, especially Ben, to examine the world he is in. His words of apprehension are what threads ‘Worldviews’ together. Whether that’s fearing stillness by leaving the TV always on, on ‘We Are Where We Are’, or the reliance on having “Different pills for different needs” on ‘Medicine’, Hendricks neatly captures his uneasiness and uncertainty. Later on, ‘Small Victories’ dwells on the need to satisfy others just to feel included.

In contrast, there are moments such as ‘Dog’ with its meme-inspired opening of “I’m the dog in a fire, Always saying “This is fine””, allowing Hendricks to accept where and who he is. ‘Defense Mechanism’ follows a similar lyrical route, as he clings on for something to believe in.

Completed by Logan Bloom (bass), Jonathan Rogers (guitar) and Daniel Radovanovic (keys), Annabel‘s brand of emo-rock perfectly sits under the category classed: RIYL: Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab For Cutie, and Pentimento. Throughout intricate guitars timidly build to radiant moments like on ‘All Time’ with its rushing chorus as Ben promises to “make up for all the lost time”. It’s followed by the title track, and allows Andy’s drum work to come to the forefront, providing energy to complement the carefree lyricism.

Later on, the pairing of ‘Every Home Needs A Ghost’ and ‘Before Too Long’ is pulled off well, even if expected. The former softly drifts with Radovanovic’s keys and Rogers’ plucky guitars, lending themselves to Ben’s contemplative words, with distortion bubbling underneath before giving way to the latter.

Tonally, Annabel‘s sound is assured and, at times, comforting. Songs like ‘Hopium’ lean into the reliable mid-western emo sound with a warm underbelly. Whereas ‘Small Victories’ ideally ruminates with a plodding bass line and electronic drums with washed-out guitars. ‘The Afterworld’ closes the record with rich strings, adding to the finality of the record.

Annabel were never standouts of whatever wave of emo they were part of, and while ‘Worldviews’ is unlikely to change that perspective, the Ohio group’s return is welcomed. Ben Hendricks’ songwriting is equally personal and relatable, and is complemented by a reliable musical assertiveness, rarely taking risks and never distracting from his thoughtful songwriting.

The Early November

The Early November – The Early November

When a band with a fair few albums under their belts decide to release an eponymous full-length, they’ve either got lazy and couldn’t think of a title, or in the case of The Early November, have plenty of belief in this collection. Now consisting of two members, frontman Ace Enders and founding drummer Jeff Kummer, TEN‘s return sees them at a pivotal stage. Besides a four or so hiatus, the emo rockers have existed in some shape or form for over 20 years.

On the surface, it’s fitting that this is self-titled as it’s undoubtedly an (The) Early November record. This is backed up early on with ‘The Empress’ and ‘About Me’ serving as assured examples of emotive alt-rock, amplified by its anthemic bursts. Considerably, this is Enders and Kummer’s downfall as the soaring hooks of ‘The Magician’, albeit with hardened delivery, come off as fairly safe.

Nevertheless, there are glimpses of progression. ‘Tired of Lying’ ticks along with a playful synth melody. ‘The Dirtest Things’, opens with electronic claps, and ‘What We Earn’ teases glacial synths. However, the pair’s reliance on punchy emo rock more often than not wins out.  Yet you can forgive them when they produce choruses as brazen as they do on ‘The Fool’. Here Kummer’s pounding drums complemented Enders’ skyward words with a soaring undercurrent. Although new elements are tried and tested, they’re far from shoehorned for relevance. They serve their purpose to enhance these songs.

Admittedly, Enders and Kummer’s aim of delivering a definitive TEN isn’t realised. However, it does serve as a reminder of their strengths; producing emotional rock in considerably its purest form and pairing it with earnest lyrics and experience.

Stand Still
Photo Credit: Elyza Reinhart

Stand Still – Steps Ascending

Long Island, New York has a history of producing emotionally-driven melodic hardcore punk, and Stand Still are here to maintain that legacy. ‘Steps Ascending’ comes four years into formation, and follows two EP’s. On the surface, it’s a record firmly rooted in its environment. Hints of The Movielife and Taking Back Sunday appear early on; see ‘Avoiding the Intersection’s steely guitars and duel vocals. However, there’s a raw urgency to what the quintet offers. For example, ‘In the Dying Light of a Setting Sun’ is a chugging gut punch, before the title track amplifies Stand Still‘s melodic side between the rapid hardcore verses.

At the core of ‘Steps Ascending’ is vocalist Gerry Windus wrestling with his religious upbringing and mortality. ‘Mysticism’ explores this with lines such as “Lead me to the unity” and “I’m too used to letting all of my fears take control”‘Tower of Gold’ later on sees him declare there’s “not enough time in this world”. It gives an insight into Windus’ mental state yet there’s perseverance. Gerry’s tales provide songs such as ‘Dust’ and ‘In the Dying Light of a Setting Sun’ with extra grit. Whereas ‘In My Blood’ serves as a celebration of rebellious hardcore as Windus’ soaring vocals, and how his sister’s “LimeWire CD’s” planted a seed.

Stylistically, Stand Still maintains a rawness throughout, even when ‘Gridlock Apocalypse’ and ‘Tower of Gold’ utilise some hooky choruses, momentarily entering pop-punk territory. The latter especially shines with vibrancy. Nevertheless, Stand Still shows no evidence of shredding their basement-soaked hardcore skin anytime soon. They’re merely thriving in the environment they’ve grown up.

While they’re a band emerging from a well-established scene, there’s considerably little hype behind Stand Still. They’ve used it to their advantage by producing a solid debut full-length. Embedded in their musical upbringing, ‘Steps Ascending’ sees the five-piece wear their heart on their sleeves both musically and lyrically. Furthermore, Kristian Hallbert of Crime In Stereo and Michael Smith of Pain Of Truth make cameos to add to the musical celebration. Much like fellow New Yorkers, Koyo, and bands such as One Step Closer, ‘Steps Ascending’ is evidence of how strong melodic hardcore is right now. Stand Still shouldn’t be ignored and on this evidence, are unlikely to get lost in the shuffle.

What is out on #NewMusicFriday?

The Early November – The Early November
Julie Christmas – Ridiculous and Full of Blood
REZN – Burden
Mono – Oath
Annabel – Worldviews
Stand Still – Steps Ascending
Right on, Kid! – Carry What You Need
Johnny Foreigner – the sky and sea were part of me, or I was part of them
Fangclub – All Good
The Decemberists – As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again
Hockey Dad – Rebuild Repeat
Fu Manchu – The Return Of Tomorrow
Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies – Blow It… At Madison’s Quinceañera!
Lamb of God – Wrath (Reissue)
Lamb of God – Resolution (Reissue)
96 Bitter Beings – Return To Hellview
The LaFontaines – Business As Usual
Scattered Ashes – All That Is Solid Melts Into Ai
Bobby Mahoney – Another Deadbeat Summer
Attendant – State of Disarray
Downfall of Mankind – Purgatory
Telling Secrets – Telling Secrets
Ulcerate – Cutting The Throat Of God
Praise – Coming Up For Air EP
Larcenia Roe – Dereliction
According To Jack – Reason to Exist
Big Country Communion – V
Carly Cosgrove – The Cleanest of Houses Are Empty
Airbag – The Century of the Self
Chained – Cut Out The Stigma
Datûra – Obsidian
Stumbleine – Deleted Scene

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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