The records that stood out as highlights, to us, from last Friday’s new releases came from Hodera and Niall Horan! Read a bit about the albums below:

Hodera – First Things First

Themes of mental illness are at the forefront of First Things First, the second full length album from New Jersey indie/alternative band Hodera, released via Take This To Heart records. Songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Matthew Smith bares his soul across these ten tracks, musing about heartbreak, loss, and depression, among other topics that are rarely so candidly spoken about in alternative music. The songs on First Things First are sprawling and intricate (the painful spoken word closer “Holding Patterns” or the seven minute long “Just For Today”), but remain achingly honest and true to life. Smith combines the east coast indie-rock ala Pinegrove and The Hotelier with folky Americana type storytelling for a signature sound that serves the emotional quality of these tracks well. First Things First is not for the faint of heart—I found myself sobbing through my second listen—but the stories contained within are special and deserve your attention. –Julian Gray

Recommended Track: “Baltimore”

Niall Horan – Flicker

Niall Horan’s debut album, Flicker, is the latest project to emerge from the separation of One Direction. It’s hard not to compare and contrast each One Direction solo project against one another as well as against the group’s original releases, but it’s what feels familiar for most fans, myself included. Horan’s solo music, as well as that of Harry Styles, seems to be the most widely enjoyed of the five original members. Flicker provides us with the pop-influenced singer/songwriter style tracks that most expected from Horan. It feels the most grown-up, and will likely catch the ears of people of all ages because it’s an accessible, simplistic sound. His vocals are soothing, and his melodies are easily understood. It doesn’t carry the energy and drive that attracted many to Styles’ music, but that’s what allows it to stand out. Hopefully with time it will become easier for us to see each musician on their own, and not as a part of a whole that no longer exists. –Cassie Wilson

Recommended Track: “Too Much To Ask”

We only highlight the releases we didn’t get the chance to review in full, so be sure to check out all of our reviews at and keep up with all new releases at!

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