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THE FRIDAY FIVE: NECK DEEP, DECLAN MCKENNA, MAGGIE LINDEMANN, NOTHING MORE, TAYLOR ACORN

SORT YOURSELF OUT - NECK DEEP



After four, long-awaited years, Neck Deep have returned with their highly-anticipated recent full-length, self-titled Neck Deep. The five piece Welsh pop-punk ensemble formed in 2012 after being founded by vocalist Ben Barlow and former lead guitarist Lloyd Roberts. The pair released the track "What Did You Expect?" shortly after joining forces which gained attention from instrumentalists such as their current rhythm guitarist Matt West as well as the bands earlier bassist and drummer. The band's initial releases were record by Barlow's older brother, Seb, before the band eventually signed to Hopeless Records in August of 2013 where they released their debut album Wishful Thinking in 2014. Following their debut release, Neck Deep became a full time project to the members who quit their jobs and dropped out of university to focus full time on the music. This proved to be beneficiary on their next two releases Life's Not Out To Get You (2015) and The Peace and The Panic (2017) which received notable critical acclaim and even scored a number 4 placement on the US Billboard 200 chart. After a handful of internal changes, Neck Deep adopted their current lineup in 2020, consisting of vocalist Ben Barlow, rhythm guitarist Matt West, lead guitarist Sam Bowden, drummer Matt Powles, and, the group's most recent additional as well as long-time collaborator, Seb Barlow on bass.


(January 19, 2024 - New York, New York) In September, the UK-rock band began to tease their upcoming, self-titled release Neck Deep on social media via Hopeless Records, today the album is available across all streaming platforms internationally, and Neck Deep was surely worth the four year wait. The new album encompasses everything Neck Deep has excelled at across their career, confessing to clear advancement and evolution in their sound.


"This album is the sound of us knowing ourselves and knowing our ability” elaboraes frontman and youngest Barlow sibling Ben. “It’s unapologetically us. We’re professional songwriters now and we’ve really honed in on what we’re good at – but it’s also about having fun and enjoying writing these tracks. And there are those little sonic signatures in the mix that even I can’t really put my finger on that just make it Neck Deep. It happens when we get in a room together and it clicks – it’s us just doing our thing like we always have"


"Sort Yourself Out" breathlessly grabs the listener by the ears and pulls them along through an engaging, compelling sonic journey. The song explores themes and preoccupations of a relationship not working out as planned, "I am trying here so desperately to find certainty," a story of providing everything to a significant other yet it still not being enough "I can buy her flowers but it never f*cking works, it's like a loaded gun, it's like dynamite and a match to her, guess you could say that she's explosive." The punchy guitar lines and fast-paced drum patterns keep the song upbeat and catchy while the vocals contribute to the dynamic diversity and emotional-characteristics of the track. The chorus ends with a signature vocal arrangement of Neck Deep, showcasing Ben Barlow's unique, authentic vocal structures and capacities. This song is hands-down a pop-punk anthem of 2024, as is the entire album, and we can't wait to see all ten tracks brought to life on stages across the world the latter part of this winter into the spring!



MULHOLLAND'S DINNER AND WINE - DECLAN MCKENNA



Declan McKenna has entered 2024 teasing his latest full-length album, What Happened To The Beach?, with an impending release date for February 9. Coming off touring North America throughout most of 2023, McKenna has recently dropped four singles to excite fans for his next project, which will be released in about a month's time through his own label, Tomplicated. This release is much more lighthearted and personal to the performer who stated "I was putting a lot of pressure on myself in the past when I just needed to drop the intensity a bit and have some fun." McKenna's fresh state of mind seeps through in the tracks which reflect a more upbeat, nonchalant writing process that in turn makes the singles buoyant. McKenna recently announced via social media that he will additionally be hosting several album launch concerts in more intimate venues across the UK and Ireland in the immediate aftermath of the album's release. If you live in the general area, we highly recommend snagging a ticket to attend the album release parties as McKenna is known to put on an exhilarating, amusing show and this album will definitely be a standout in his discography with the more blissful approaches he's pursuing.


"Mulholland's Dinner and Wine" offers a refreshing sonic experience to listeners showcasing the artist's stellar production, dynamic variations, and vocal experimentation intertwined seamlessly into the intricate composition. Declan McKenna's musical evolution has seen him experiment with a broader range of sounds constantly, "Mulholland's Dinner and Wine" displays this brilliantly, opening with varied elements emulating electronic tracks before flowing effortlessly into a more indie guitar-driven pop ballad while containing the electronic components in the backing tracks conspicuously. The track is consistent with Declan McKenna's often upbeat and infectious pop melodies, complemented by his distinctive vocals and transcending synth techniques, this track is an infectiously groovy story that is vividly imaginable. "Mulholland's Dinner and Wine" continues to expand McKenna's vocal capabilities through experimenting with autotuned effects and harmonies which confess to his growth as a solo musician and re-establishes his individuality in the scene. McKenna's recent releases demonstrate a willingness to explore various genres and incorporate diverse musical elements into his songs, we truly cannot wait to hear the album in its entirety this February.


DECLAN MCKENNA | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | X | FACEBOOK


HOSTAGE - MAGGIE LINDEMANN



After only releasing four singles, Maggie Lindemann became an internet sensation for her music in 2016 with the release of her breakout single "Pretty Girl." The song popularized Maggie Lindemann internationally with chart placements in Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands as well as the United States, however, the song hardly defines Maggie Lindemann as an artist. In 2021, Maggie Lindemann transitioned her music to incorporate more pop rock, pop punk elements stylistically with the release of her debut EP, Paranoia, developing Lindemann as a well-rounded vocal powerhouse in the pop-rock industry. The EP received fair critical acclaim, with people praising the artist for meshing pieces of metal with pop and rock sounds. Her song "Crash and Burn" was additionally Radio.com's Alternative Pick of the Week in March of 2021 which landed Lindemann's first debut on Mediabase radio chart peaking at number 33. In 2022, Lindemann announced her upcoming debut album, Suckerpunch, by releasing the first few singles off the full-length, including a song featuring post-hardcore staple Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens. In promotion of the album, Lindemann confessed to her seven year long struggle of finding her individuality musically, through label expectations and public opinions, she explains her initial "popstar" image was restricting and held her back from releasing the album sooner. In addition to her music, Maggie Lindemann also owns a clothing brand, record label, and hosts a podcast.


"hostage" is an evident evolution of Maggie Lindemann's sound vocally and sonically. Whereas Maggie Lindemann has been wavering on the edge of hyper-pop and alternative pop stylistically based on her most recent album Suckerpunch, "hostage" builds off Lindemann's emo, hardcore roots with its theatrical, somewhat orchestral, production that emulates that of Motionless in White or Ice Nine Kills. This can specifically be heard throughout the chorus where the instrumentation highlights more atmospheric elements similar to theatric orchestration, though more electronic in nature. Maggie Lindemann's vocals come in as powerful as ever, showcasing her applaudable range and unique annunciation which is enhanced by her pristine, professional production style. Although this isn't a typical upbeat, danceable tune from Lindemann, "hostage" is introspective and emotive, displaying the artist's growth and originality musically.

MAGGIE LINDEMANN | WEBITE | INSTAGRAM | X | FACEBOOK


IF IT DOESN'T HURT - NOTHING MORE



Formed in 2003, Nothing More is an American rock band from San Antonio, Texas consisting of Jonny Hawkins, Mark Vollelunga, Daniel Oliver, and Ben Anderson. The band spent the earlier part of their career recording countless independent albums while struggling to attract record label interest. The band self-funded and recorded their fourth studio album Nothing More which, over the course of three years, would eventually put the ensemble on the map in the music industry with charting tracks and a record deal. Musically, the band has noted influence from Tool and Rage Against The Machine while lyrically the content is inspired by a wide variety of factors, including influential writers and philosophers. In 2022, the band released their latest full-length to date entitled Spirits which followed a longwinded writing process beginning in 2019. During album promotion, the band reminisced on their constant touring while crafting the album, noting creating makeshift recording areas in locker rooms and dressing rooms to lock in ideas. Now it appears Nothing More are back with another treat for fans, and maybe something more to come soon!


"If It Doesn't Hurt" wastes no time welcoming fans back into the Nothing More experience, coming in with a punch only thirty seconds in. Starting off melodic, the vocals greet listeners immediately, filling the sonic landscape with harmonizes, vocalizing, and and echo effects that make the words stick in your head. Jonny Hawkins vocally draws you back in after a few moments of enticing you with his melodic prowess, kicking off the song with "RUN IT BACK!" before the breakdown hits. The heavy guitar riffs fill the space of the vocals with a raunchy bassline moving along the beat of the fast drum rolls and fills contributed by Ben Anderson. Hawkins' vocals shine over the breakdown when he comes in screaming at the same time still highlighting the instruments powerful ambiance. The athematic chorus sticks, vulnerably remarking "if it doesn't hurt at all, then it doesn't mean a thing, I never knew that I, could feel this way," a statement I am sure a lot of us can meaningful scream along with when angry or upset. The tempo slows down a bit as the verse takes over, allowing Hawkins voice and emotive delivery to take center stage where he plays around with vocal effects, harmonizing, and transitions. The second chorus closes out with a guitar break, experimenting further with the electrified effects and showcasing the talent of the instrumentalists as Hawkins voice strategically fades in and out. The song concludes with one last breakdown and in my head I can already picture the crowd anticipating it within the venue walls before the melodic chorus ends things with a scream and harmony. Nothing More is gearing up for an exciting 2024, and we can't wait to see what's in store, "If It Doesn't Hurt" is already very promising.


NOTHING MORE | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | X | FACEBOOK


GRAY - TAYLOR ACORN



Taylor Acorn plays a sleek, stylish modern pop, leaning into a country specification and an undergirding emo streak, one that she pushed to the forefront on her famed 2020 cover of Matchbox 20's "Unwell." All this was further cemented on her breakthrough EP "Put It In A Song" which helped her cultivate an audience upon its release in 2017 as a result of her soulful and emotive voice as well as her ability to blend country and pop influences seamlessly. Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Taylor Acorn began pursuing music at a young age, her hometown influences peak through in some of her more country-orientated approaches though can be heard throughout every track. Her music often explores themes of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery, resonating with a broad audience ranging from young to old. Taylor Acorn's versatile vocals and songwriting skills have contributed to her growing popularity in the contemporary country and pop music scenes, making her the next big thing to watch in the female-pop world.


"Gray" is a metaphoric single, whereas the title indicates a state of feeling, an emotion continuously built on throughout the imaginative lyrics. The song begins by hinting at the song title, "achromatic little life" and then picks up again with the theme of light, dark, and color again in the chorus with "Is it nice to see the bright side? Cause I, I haven't seen the sun in days, All I see is gray." Despite the lyrics being somewhat melancholy in their meaning, the track is upbeat and has a feel-good sensation to it. The drums establish a somewhat moderate tempo that keeps the song pacing along in a radio-friendly manner, incorporating various rhythmic elements comparable to that of country or pop beats. Enhancing the beats, Acorn incorporates both electric and acoustic guitar on this track, thus the acoustic provides the single with country-folk influences whereas the electric guitar steps in with a more modern and dynamic edge that plays into her pop rock influences. Above all, this single truly showcases Acorn's vocal capabilities which range from high notes to melodic passages contributing to the overall texture of the track as a whole. Taylor Acorn's music is a refreshing take on pop, country, folk, and powerhouse vocal rock, "Gray" continues to enhance Acorn's versatility and accessibility in the scene.


TAYLOR ACORN | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOK | X

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