Scooter Brothers - Lookin' Good! Review

Monmouth County seems to be a breeding ground for unique alternative rock bands. It is incredibly often I find myself finding out about a number of rock outfits that fit the mold of groovy, savvy rock bands akin to many groups that play Asbury Park. And after checking out their albums, I wonder to myself: why haven’t I seen this band around Asbury?! That probably speaks to the clique problem in that scene, but I digress - people who love the alternative rock camaraderie of Asbury bands but want something new should be listening to Manalapan-based band Scooter Brothers, specifically their album Lookin’ Good!

Lookin’ Good!
 is an energetic romp carried by four alternative rock tracks that keep you fully engaged and bobbing your head. Scooter Brothers released the EP on September 29, 2017 with the promise that half of the sales from their album would be donated to UNICEF’s Hurricane Maria relief fund for Puerto Rico. Listeners already had more than one reason to pick up this album, but that’s a truly wonderful added incentive to do so.

We've got the tracklist down below for you to follow along!

Lookin' Good! Tracklist:
1. No Diane
2. Beatch Boys
3. Mirror Me
4. Train Ride

 








Instrumentally, listeners will enjoy the nod to surf rock on the first two tracks “No Diane” and “Beatch Boys” (not a typo).  The last two tracks dig into a bit more of a rock n’ roll sound, with the guitars not only holding down melody but adding spacey auxiliary sounds by way of screaming leads and tonalities reminiscent of shoe-gaze. The bass and drums hold down the rhythm section, with drum fills and bass lines that contribute well to the sound the band is achieving as a whole. What I love about “Train Ride” is the occasional piano and organ parts that rear their heads to add depth to the track.

What stood out to me were the creative lyrics on each song, each sharing specific vignettes told by the lyricist while leaving interpretation completely open to the listener. “Mirror Me” seemingly shares the story of a relationship between two people who feel bound by their ties to each other and society’s expectations of their individual existences, though it could mean anything. I feel it is so important to note how hilarious “No Diane” is lyrically, a story about how the singer was told by a ghost that the woman he is destined to marry is named ‘Diane.’ At the song’s peak, the instruments peel back the volume only for the vocalist to admit in all his years of existing, there is no way this could be true unless someone wants to introduce him to a twenty-something year old woman named Diane; he hasn’t found her.

Anyone who is looking for a diverse alternative rock album should check out Scooter Brothers’ Lookin’ Good!, available now on Bandcamp. The EP is sonically engaging and incredibly creative.  Be sure to follow Scooter Brothers on their social media down below to stay up-to-date on future shows!

Scooter Brothers: Facebook // Twitter

Burn The Louvre - We'll Be Just Fine Review

Design by: Marah Montague

Design by: Marah Montague

Canada natives Burn the Louvre, up-and-coming indie rock band, have recently released their new EP, We’ll Be Just Fine. With a total of six songs and a striking album cover that draws the eye, We’ll Be Just Fine is Burn the Louvre’s second EP, and a great step forward onto the music scene. Their first EP, Post-Romance, was released in November 2014.

The new album has been featured on college radio stations across Canada such as Mohawk College & McMaster University in Ontario, Ryerson University in Toronto, University of Guelph, and Brock University in St. Catherine’s. Burn the Louvre has also been featured on several music blogs in their home turf, but now, The Hook Journal is giving them a warm American welcome. 

Check out their social media down below!

We'll Be Just Fine Tracklist:
1. Fast Cars & Porn Stars
2. Body Lies
3. Give Me Love
4. Simpler Places
5. Breakdown
6. We’ll Be Just Fine
 

 

 

 

We’ll Be Just Fine starts off with the track “Fast Cars & Porn Stars,” which begins with a guitar melody that immediately makes my ears perk up. The song introduces the vocals of frontman Jordan Speare. Speare’s voice has a similar cadence to other indie rock singers like John Gourley of Portugal. The Man, and Nicholas Petricca of WALK THE MOON. The songs on We’ll Be Just Fine sound like something similar to what a Philly native would hear on Radio 104.5. My personal favorites were “Give Me Love” and “Simpler Places.”

The lyrics to “Simpler Places” are all too relatable – not to call on an overused sentiment, but it does really apply here. The chorus of “Well I don’t wanna try living a lie for the rest of my days, for the rest of my days and the rest of my nights,” stood out to me the most. This song is one I would expect to find tucked away in the soundtrack of a coming-of-age indie movie; the lyrics tell the story of that sort of journey of finding yourself, of reaching a point in your life when you realize what you truly want and who you want to be.

“Simpler Places” has a music video out, which you can watch here!

An honorable mention goes to the song “Breakdown” for its instrumentals. Burn the Louvre is certainly a band to watch out for, and We’ll Be Just Fine is worth a listen. Download the EP now and be sure to follow Burn the Louvre for more updates!

Burn the Louvre: Facebook // Instagram // YouTube // Twitter

CJ Dunleavy - If You Were Me Review

Photography: Dave Lisowski

Photography: Dave Lisowski

Now on our radar is CJ Dunleavy.

Dunleavy is a Doylestown native who made it a point to jump into the alternative music scene early: releasing his first instrumental song when he was just 17, starting out on SoundCloud, a path many young artists find themselves on. Since, Dunleavy has released four more instrumental tracks, taken voice lessons, and become a songwriter. He’s played at venues like Peddler’s Village, Chaplin’s, and the notable Trocadero Theatre in Philly. Dunleavy’s new EP, If You Were Me, was recently released in 2017 and is the most recent accomplishment on his growing list!

Check out the tracklist for If You Were Me below!

 

 

 

 

With four songs on it, If You Were Me is short and sweet.

The first track, “Please Don’t Go,” has soft instrumentals that give the listener a nice, mellow vibe. It sounds summery and warm. While Dunleavy’s vocals fall flat in certain places, the instrumentals are where this album really shines. Track two, “The Player, And the Played” has a distinct difference from the track that precedes it, with a funkier sound and more adventurous instrumental choices. It comes off as a bit harsher, with sharper edges, where the first track was smooth.

However, track three, “Hold on to Me,” melts back into the softer feel of the first song. “Hold on to Me” is my favorite song off the album. The lyrics are sweet, and the guitar/keyboard/string (violin? Viola?) combination in the background instrumentals gives it a dreamy feel that I really enjoyed. The crescendos towards the end of the song give it an impact that hits in all the right places. “Here We Go Now” rounds off the album with a really pretty melody and heartfelt lyrics. This song sounds kind of like a fairytale, and the guitar melody reminds me of one of my favorite songs, “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer.

If You Were Me gets four out of five stars from me for this album, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him in the future. Listen to If You Were Me for free on Spotify, and be sure to keep an eye out for Dunleavy on social media, links down below!

CJ Dunleavy: Facebook // Bandcamp

Curtis Cooper - Messy Review

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

It's been almost two years since we first met Curtis Cooper in a coffee shop on the corner of 13th and Pine Street in Philadelphia, PA. Our friendship with Curtis has only gotten stronger since that first interview over hot chocolate and tea, and Curtis has grown in innumerable ways that only make us feel proud to know them.

Their latest achievement being Messy, an 11-track deluge of emotional outpouring that breaks out from Curtis' Laughing In Line in a way that remains, at it's core, everything that we already loved, but more bruised and bleeding and ready to give. Released on November 13th, Messy has been ruminating in our minds since, a daily listen on the car ride home or while writing - and we're pretty sure you'll feel the same after taking a listen.

But first, semantics.

All songs were written and arranged by Curtis Cooper, engineered by Scott Stitzer and Nick Barnes, produced by Scott Stitzer, and mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Curtis Cooper (vox, guitar, synth, drums track 11, whistle), Jack Zaferes (bass), and Scott Stitzer (drums, synth, percussion, mad scientist) put together Cooper's ideas to create Messy & with all of that tandem effort, you have an impressionable, inescapable album to get lost in.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Art: Erik Savage

Album Art: Erik Savage

Messy Tracklist:
1. Freak Out
2. Philly Jelly
3. Crazy
4. Interlude 1
5. Percs of Life
6. Yeah, No
7. JKayla
8. Everyone Loves You
9. Everybody's Dying
10. Interlude 2
11. Is It Real


Messy has taken Curtis a step further, if we're allowed to say so. In comparison to Laughing In Line, Messy's realness leaves listeners feeling connected to Cooper in a way that Laughing In Line always kept at arm's length - while that isn't to discredit the debut album in anyway, as it's still one of our favorites, it seems more so to do with the fact that Curtis Cooper is growing as an artist and Messy is just that - messy and trying to figure that out with the poise and grace that only Curtis knows how to show.

Opening track 'Freak Out' is unlike anything we've heard before from the artist, a stellar opening track as it jumpstarts the rabbit hole that Messy cultivates, fall into the spaces of mind you haven't been dealing with. With obvious rock influence, this track maintains a tone that feels comfortable for the album to begin with. 'Philly Jelly' and 'Crazy' are going to be staples of the album, reminiscent of Laughing In Line in sound and form, with important lyrical content that we feel also really makes up a huge chunk of this album. 'Percs of Life' and 'Yeah, No' follow suit, are easy to listen and relate to.

The two interludes are really interesting to me because the only successful interludes I've ever heard are in more conceptual albums and usually flow casually in between tracks. However, the interludes here feel more weighted and exciting as they not only flow between tracks, but they also offer up feeling whether that be via whistling in 'Interlude 1' or the pure instrumental of 'Interlude 2,' honestly I was just really blown away by the cohesiveness of these two tracks because at first glance it can be a bit off putting. 

Stand out tracks for us are 'Everyone Loves You,' 'Everyone's Dying,' and 'Is It Real.' These tracks stand out because they feel new, fresh and exciting for Curtis. Maybe it's just where our head is at right now, but we really connected to these three tracks on every level they experience - especially 'Is It Real' the closing tracks of all closing tracks, seriously what the heck listen to it right now. Honestly, though, we could be here forever talking about how much we love Curtis Cooper. Their sound is ambitious and addictive. They take what we love about the Philadelphia music scene, that guttural, instinctual, clenched feeling of emotional expression and put it into one place. This album is easy to listen to, it ebbs & flows against itself in a way that feels familiar but also new. 

Check out Messy, check out Curtis Cooper, their album release show is on January 19th and you definitelty don't want to miss out on that or this album. Below we've got their social media links, and you can check out their bandcamp via the tracklist above! As always thanks for reading and catch up with us next time!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // SoundCloud

Fox Hollow - The Dream Reel Review

NY locals, Fox Hollow, have been very busy this year - and before we end 2017, we're revisiting their April release of The Dream Reel. The 4-track EP is a glam rock tribute to the you we're all thinking about when we think about someone else. An indie, smooth moving EP this is definitely one you're going to want to put on while we whittle away at the end of the year.

Fox Hollow is comprised of memebers Michael Themistocleous (Vocals/Guitar), Joseph Oliveto (Guitar), Dan DeLucia (Bass), Chris Swift (Drums), and let's not forget Lyle the Corgi (Vocals). The EP was recorded and mixed by Ryan Meyers in Syosset, NY. With an emphasis on instrumental performance, the vocal feels secondary as you move through this album, but we'll get to that later. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Brian Parisi

Artwork: Brian Parisi

The Dream Reel Tracklist:
1. The Dream Reel
2. June
3. Tennessee Whiskey
4. Strangers to Ourselves

 

 

 

 

 

Opening title track is going to introduce you to Fox Hollow with poise & grace. You've got a band that borders on pop rock, that groovy movement that bands like Medusa's Disco or Adventure Lost are also participating in. "The Dream Reel" drops listeners into the world of Fox Hollow, one in which you're always talking to someone else, yearning to get lost alongside them - good or bad. The rest of the album isn't going to disappoint, it feels similar in sound and lyrical content, but that makes The Dream Reel a solid consistent listen. As a listener I do wonder what else is in Fox Hollow's bag of tricks that isn't showcased here on the EP, but that's what 2018 is for, right!?

Closing track 'Strangers to Ourselves' is a 7 minute ode that is the culmination of Fox Hollow's goal. The lyricism on this track especially stood out to me in poetics and meaning. This track is one that I feel comes to you at a point when you need to hear it - and you want to bathe in all 7 minutes of it. Consider The Dream Reel Hook Approved. So check out The Dream Reel & Fox Hollow because we're gonna be following them right into 2018.

For more on Fox Hollow & The Dream Reel, check out their social media down below to never miss a beat!

Fox Hollow: Facebook // Bandcamp

Green Knuckle Material - Renaissance Review

Green Knuckle Material are ending 2017 with their December release of Renaissance. The EP is a fun-loving, sweet little collection of 5-tracks that Green Knuckle Material should be proud of. I mean, we're gonna practically beg you to listen to this one. With an infusion of hip-hop, indie rock, alternative rock and rap rock you're in for a montage of good sounds and good feels. 

But first, let's introduce the people that brought us Renaissance: Scatterbrain (Rap Vocals), Young Dan (Guitar & Lead Vocals), D String (Bass & Vocals), Mudd Dog (Guitar & Vocals), and the Hawaiian (drums). The EP was produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Josh Gustin and Mike Ravenda. The 5-track EP is a cohesive, exciting & fun to groove to when the winter blues have you down.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

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Renaissance Tracklist:
1. Lullaby
2. Soon As
3. Hole
4. For the First Time
5. Pictures

 

 

 

 

Opening track 'Lullaby' sets the tone for the rest of the EP. Reminiscent of bands like Pepper, Green Knuckle Material leave an open hand out for listeners in this first track. The EP devolves into a more 90's rock influenced sound with an identifying guitar tone, and vocals to offset it. Tracks like 'Soon As' and 'Hole' most represent this part of the EP. The piano & shrieking vocals in 'Hole' especially are not to be missed.

'For The First Time' slows it down for Green Knuckle Material, similar to 'Lullaby.' The piano in this track offsets the harshness of the vocals, and the chorus is the highlight of the track for me. Closing & longest track "Pictures" is the black sheep of the bunch, but I don't mean that in a bad way at all. I really enjoyed 'Pictures' because this EP could've gotten really stale very quickly, but GKM gave listeners a new sound in each track and that's a really stellar thing.

Generally, GKM have always stuck to their guns and are a band you can count on for a good time and feel good vibes. Renaissance is a fantastic EP and you'd be silly not to listen. Check out Green Knuckle Material & Renaissance before the year is over, and check out their social media down below to stay in the loop with everything they've got going on!

Green Knuckle Material: Website // Instagram // Facebook

The Carousers - Self Titled EP Review

Were you missing that authentic sound of 90’s pop-punk? Well, boy, do I have an album for you.

The Carousers have released their debut, self-titled, EP, and it’s filled with 5 glorious punk tunes that are as fun and infectious as they are hard, and in-your-face. Hailing from the mystical land of New Jersey, The Carousers are a trio comprised of lead singer/guitarist Joey Affatato, bassist Cassidy Crosby, and tambourine player (as well as drums), Andy Jackle.

When I usually do reviews, I like to go to try and find a band’s inspirations to get a glimpse into what other artists played a role in shaping that band’s music. While The Carousers definitely have a familiar sound, comparing them to another well-known, established act has proved next to impossible. They list smaller, more local bands as influences on their sound, and besides that being an extremely awesome thing, it perfectly embodies the raw, ‘I don’t care what you think, I’m just gonna be me’ attitude that is present in every note of this EP.

Check out the EP's tracklist down below!

The Carousers Tracklist:
1. She’s the Devil
2. Strangers
3. Cracked Pot
4. Another World
5. Halloween Night

 

 

 

 

The album wastes no time in thrusting the listener into everything that The Carousers have to offer. “She’s the Devil” opens with some big ol’ power chords with Affatato’s signature fuzzy guitar sound perfectly backed by a very competent rhythm section. The song quickly changes from a tighter verse, to a more open, mellow pre-chorus all leading up to the anthemic refrain. The bridge is by far the most interesting part of the song and serves as a perfect breath of fresh air showcasing just how diverse this band can be in such a short amount of time. All in all, it’s all fairly straightforward music executed in a really well-done way.

The real star of The Carouser’s songs is Affatato’s voice and melody. He tells very relatable stories, and although his voice is rough, having an almost sandpaper-like quality to it, he draws you in and makes you pay attention to what he has to say. The second track “Strangers” builds further upon the foundation that the first track laid down. It’s a track that’s a bit more fun, and self-affirming than the previous song. The bridge has one of the longest instrumental sections of any song on the album, and it’s nice to hear every player shine through in such a fast-paced environment. Track 3, “Crackpot Girl” is probably my favorite song off the record. The verses are just alright, but the chorus and bridge are some of the best songwriting on the entire album. The choruses in particular have everyone working together in perfect harmony and is just so well put together and catchy, it’s almost impossible not to feel good when you’re listening to it.

“Another World,” the lead single off the EP, is the quintessential pop-punk tune. Arguably Jackle’s best song on drums, it’s a hard-hitting song that starts and just doesn’t stop. The drums and bass in the verses are some of the most interesting rhythm patterns on the record, but it’s a shame they weren’t given more room to grow. Oddly enough the very last chord of the song had me extremely excited as it’s a very unexpected ending note, and in an album that’s not trying to surprise you, it caught me off guard in a really cool way. I have a love-hate relationship with “Halloween Nights” the last song on the album. It’s the most distinct track off the record with a sort of 50’s pop vibe to it, and probably my second favorite song, but something happens about half way through that still hits me in a really odd way for about 3 seconds. The song goes through a key change suddenly and out of nowhere. Where the track ends up is a really good place, but the journey through that key change just doesn’t feel like it should be there. The way I feel about the key change is totally subjective, but the key change itself is something that stands out on the album regardless.

The Carousers debut self-titled EP is a quirky, fun, and quick throwback to what pop-punk is all about. With so many artists sounding so similar to one another, The Carousers show that authenticity and passion are just as important for music as mainstream appeal. An album doesn’t always have to be innovative for it to be great, and The Carousers have shown us the perfect example of exactly why that is true.

The Carousers: Facebook // SoundCloud // Bandcamp // Instagram // Twitter

Dizzy Bats - I Don't Live Here Anymore Review

Die-hard fans of pop punk are not always easily swayed by underground bands of the like. Though the genre is known for being formulated, it is not often that bands will take a beloved genre, make it sound fresh and exciting, while paying homage to those who paved the way before them.  That’s why pop punk listeners need to know about New York-based band, Dizzy Bats. 

Dizzy Bats are a pop punk band from New York CIty that formed in the summer of 2011. As is evident by their music, they are inspired by the pop punk movement of the 90’s and early 2000’s, especially channeling bands such as Bayside, Alkaline Trio and Weezer.  Dizzy Bats’ latest EP and fifth studio release, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, was released on September 19, 2017 with three tracks embodying the epitome of what core pop punk fans love about the genre.  

Besides deep-seated roots in early millennia pop punk, the band is in-tune to keeping their sound extremely new, having tracked the album with Jon Markson of math punk pioneers, Such Gold. Jon Markson’s perspective of playing punk is evident in the production of this album, and Dizzy Bats’ keen ear for writing pop punk songs make this three-track EP a must-listen.

Check out the tracklist below!
 

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I Don’t Live Here Anymore Tracklist:
1. I’m Listening
2. Scared
3. I Don’t Live Here Anymore

 

 

 

 

 

Instantly on the first track “I’m Listening,” the lead guitar hooks you in with a guitar riff that simply sings, supported by an exceptionally strong rhythm section. Notably, strong melodic guitar leads are the glue that holds each track together, tastefully strewn throughout the framework the instrumentation for each song. The tones on this record are crunchy, and I’m especially loving how bright the harmonics on the leads in “Scared” are. The bass is twangy and groovy, and sometimes given the spotlight which is an expert move in arrangement. The drums punctuate each verse and chorus perfectly, with flashiness at the right moments in each song.

It is uncertain if the similarity in vocal performance is intentional, but the lead vocals and harmonies are stylistically reminiscent of Anthony Ranieri’s melodies and Rivers Cuomo’s dynamics- however, the tonal qualities of Connor Frost are completely unique, and are an important component of the uniqueness of Dizzy Bats’ sound.  The vibe of the EP takes a complete switch on the last track as the credits roll on title track “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and veers off into a somber track with some Midwestern-Emo flair in the outro. Instrumentally it, seems like a sharp left turn at first, but when considering the thematics of the EP, it is the perfect closer.  

Though the brightness of the instrumentation itself would lend itself to peppy lyrics, the lyrical themes are nothing but bright. Dizzy Bats explore darker themes on I Don’t Live Here Anymore, perhaps as a result of the EP being written and arranged around the 2016 US presidential election. “I’m Listening” is told in the perspective of someone who is telling the story of a friend dealing with mental illness, assuring them they can seek comfort and confide in the narrator.  The following track “Scared” aims to instill the familiarity of simply that- the feeling of your veins running rife with fear- while sung in the simplest, most relatable terms.  “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” is a story about identity, that stirs a feeling of wishfulness and longing for a sense of self; a better state of living.

Music fans who truly love pop punk need to hear I Don’t Live Here Anymore by Dizzy Bats. Simply put, it’s exceptionally well-written punk music with the pop punk sensibility that only bands such as themselves can pull off.  It’s anthemic, it’s meaningful and it just sounds really dang good. Especially with production credits noting a member of Such Gold, how can you pass this record up? 

Be sure to stay up-to-date with Dizzy Bats and upcoming show dates by following them on their social media down below! 

Dizzy Bats: Facebook