DIY

Inspector 34 - Don't Worry This Is Ok Review

Music you’ve heard for the very first time, but takes you to a place where everyone knows your name? That’s precisely where you’re going from the very first strum, the opening note of Lowell Massachusetts powerhouse Inspector 34.

This isn’t your typical EP either, Don’t Worry This Is OK, dropped with a transformative music video for their lead track “Fed Up.” Talk about hearing your guitar and seeing it in action, too! A band, who aren’t strangers to tremendous talent, are showcased front and center as the collective vision of Jim Warren, Pat Auclair, Silas Price, Ben Kaplowitz, and Alexandra Derderian! At just under 15 minutes (but you’ll wish for 5x that length in the end) this quartet of songs will leave you hungry for more! It’s all highs and no lows from here on out!

Your guide for the ride, check out the tracklist below!

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Don’t Worry This Is Ok:
1. Fed up
2. Hurts
3. Try So Hard
4. That Charming Man

If you gave this a listen before continuing, then welcome back! If not, then buckle in because you’re headed to transcendent places.

Have you ever wanted a soundtrack for your life? Needed something better than words to describe a feeling? Well look no further my friends. The opening track encapsulates you with a magnetic ambience, you are transfixed by the swelling of passion around you. Every track feels like the crest and fall of a wave, blending perfectly together. Sometimes we need more than words and other times we need outstanding voices! If I could sing, I would sing the praises of the vocals throughout this EP. What are a completely spellbinding incantation that takes you to the epicenter that is raw emotion.

In the mood for sexy baselines? Prepare to be seduced. Need a little bit of folk twang to start your day? Then look no further! Inspector 34 delivers on every front you’ve thought of and probably some you haven’t and that’s just four songs. Imagine what they have in store for you next!

Picking a favorite song here is difficult but we’re going with Track 3, ‘Try So Hard,’ and it does. I wish this track was longer, it’s the first song I played over again, and again, the attitude is infectious, the perfect illustration of what this band is capable of. This is the song you want headlining your life and playing in the background every time you do something “Cool guys don’t look at explosions” type worthy.

I have been in and around the music scene a very long time, and I struggle to imagine a more consistent, powerful band for my first formal review here for The Hook. You heard it hear first before you no doubt here it everywhere, you are going to want more, if you ever need a formula on how to do it right, this is it.

Let’s listen together, soon, and take a deeper inspection into Inspector 34 using their social media links down below!

Inspector 34: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram //Spotify

Halogens - Happy Hour Review

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When it comes to one of our favorite bands, Halogens, we just can’t get enough. In fact, we haven’t gotten enough since we first heard their 2016 Self-Titled EP, so thank god for Happy Hour. Releasing on February 22nd, consider it a belated Valentines Day gift from the dynamic foursome.

Comprised of Zach Henry (Vocals/Guitar), Charlie Throckmorton (Guitar), Tim Wuestneck (Bass/Vocals), and George Saives (Drums), allowing the band to pack a heavy punch. The six track EP is the latest edition to the bands growing discography, and one to surely solidify Halogens in your hearts. It is heartfelt, knit-picking, and typically Halogens-esque in certain moments. We’re talking brash, coarse vocals, heavy hitting instrumentals balanced by a softness that entangles you emotionally, cathartically, and sometimes painfully.

Check out the track list below!

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Happy Hour Tracklist:
1. Pretty Enough
2. The Inside
3. Buckle
4. Sometimes
5. O’Gourman
6. The Backwoods



“Pretty Enough” opens up the EP’s melancholy - something I’d describe as an emotional longing that Halogens has always been good at conveying. There is always a sense of cathartic urgency, and every track is an inevitable purging. The band has been showcasing this track at recent shows, switching up their set list and giving listeners a taste of what to come. “Pretty Enough” also bonds the EP together as an opening track, which is one of the most impressive feats of this album.

In comparison to previous EP’s, I would say that Happy Hour feels stronger. It has a sense of itself, it flows well together, and while the tracks maintain a signature sound that the band has cultivated, the tracks don’t bleed - having the ability to exist on their own allows them the opportunity to utilize the tracks in different, more meaningful ways. Halogens has definitely grown up for this one, maintaining their instrumental complexity while also exploring this new softness that I’m really into.

My favorite track is “Buckle.” Anchoring the middle of an EP can be tricky, but “Buckle” does so in a way that alters the mood of the EP so listeners slide into “Sometimes.” I also really appreciated how the tempo slowed down for this track. By switching into this rhythm, the emphasis moves back onto the lyrics - a problem that Halogens has faced before, losing the lyrics in the instrumentals. “Sometimes” swoops in to dance away all of the sadness. I do wonder what else Halogens can do, though. I wonder, upon listening back on previous work, what growth Halogens can continue to make. What sounds can they cultivate to give the listener even more? How do they allow themselves the ability to step outside of a pre-designed box, one that works well and executes nicely. As the band adds more, I have a sense that I want more.

One thing I appreciate, especially about the lyricism in this album, is that Halogens never fail to make the listener feel included or secure. Halogens simultaneously validates and empowers listeners with commonality, the idea of being relatable is never lost on the band. They know just the way you feel, those oddities of experiencing life, sadness, loss, and most importantly - happiness. Happy Hour succeeds in keeping listeners excited & queued in on Halogens. It leaves little to want, but maybe Halogens next move will be different, or maybe they won’t. Either way, they remain as one of our favorite locals of all time - a band with good intentions, support and kindness that exceeds their music.

We’ve got links down below to access Halogens, so you should definitely be checking them out. Support them by purchasing merchandise and/or their music on Bandcamp, and thanks for choosing The Hook!

Halogens: Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

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

Cerulean Blue - Take It or Leave It Review

A Philadelphia favorite, sweet friends in Cerulean Blue have been ruminating in our ear buds for over a month now. The DIY experimental project is headed by Kevin Brusha and encapsulates a more laid back 'do it yourself, can do' attitude that is wildly transparent in the Philadelphia scene!

Their most recent EP, Take It or Leave It, was released on July 15th of this year! The 4-track EP is a sweet, concise little diddy that explores rock, love, and lots of chiming noises. Brusha self describes Cerulean Blue as a "glam rock band with a focus on challenging pop song structure and performance by making music that is odd/accessible."

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Take It or Leave It Review:
1. Rebirth
2. Library
3. Lighthouse
4. Pale Blue Light

 

 

 

 

"Rebirth" opens up the EP in the sweetest of ways, one that welcomes and charms listeners into the placidity of Cerulean Blue. The vocals are far away, barely tangible while the music envelopes you and the things you're doing. I wrote many an album review listening to this EP, as it is comforting and happy to me.

Tracks like "Library" and "Lighthouse" feel like tracks out of ethereal movies where they're both in a field, spinning and loving so hard until it ends, until it all ends. Take It or Leave It exists in a space all it's own, a fairy. Closing track "Pale Blue Light" encapsulates the entire album and presents it as one concise song for listeners - screeching violin and all. The penultimate before the gaping hole that Take It or Leave It left with me, a moment to retract the globs of myself and become one again.

I really like this, and Cerulean Blue is definitely Hook Approved, so check it out. Links below for your consideration!

Cerulean Blue: Facebook // Bandcamp

Witch H(c)unt - Self Titled Review

Weird, emotional,  and quirky as all hell, Witch H(c)unt by an artist of the same name tackles some very strong, intimate themes via the new wave of DIY punk that lives in the Philadelphia Underground.

Let’s get this out of the way early, musically this album doesn't follow a straightforward path. It interchanges between indie-ish folk and dirty, brash alternative rock. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of folksy vocals, but at times they give off a tone I can only describe as a monotonous mesh between Amanda Palmer and Jessicka Addams. It’s very punk, but maybe outside of havens of punk basements and art spaces, it may be something difficult to get into. 

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Self-Titled Tracklist:
1. i don't like u
2. garrett's song
3. sack of shit
4. Nayo Jones - Black and Queer
5. lil fishies
6. vomit queen
7. Rehan Ahmed - Phone Call and Faith
8. ghost bro
9. transmasc
10. trash
11. Consent †∆† short essay
12. Content Warning
13. fuck boyz never change
14. failed me 2
15. sunshine world
16. Karla Maria - Brown Girl in the Mix-Tuesday Hauntings

Instrumentally, there’s a heavy usage of banjo, and occasionally a very light bit of synthesizer sounds, but otherwise there’s nothing that really grabs you instrumentally. "Vomit Queen" does feature a very driving guitar/bass/drum combo, and it’s possibly the song I enjoyed the most, but most of the album is blurred. 
 
One thing I did enjoy about this album was some of the themes it presented. This is an album that attempts to tackle mental illness, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and trans-masculinity.  The most powerful moments of the album are separate from the music; contained within the spoken word poetry segments. Stories from marginalized members of society strike a personal chord within the listeners and the performers themselves. Even in the musical tracks, the topics portrayed here are deeply personal and the artists themselves are speaking from a very vulnerable place. 
 
Something I realized after finishing this album was that this album isn’t for me. This wasn’t something written to please me. This album is an artistic representation of a scene I don’t participate in and for an audience I will not find myself among. However, there is a correlation I can draw to this. Hell, all musicians can.

This album is purely music as an art form instead of as a form of entertainment. Every musician has created at least one thing that deviates from a need for an audience. An absolute form of self expression meant to make a statement about yourself and the world you live in. As someone who enjoys more well produced, structured and formulaic releases, this really isn’t my cup of tea. But there is an inherent importance to this release. The value in this lies less in the sound, and more in the statement.
 
Witch H(c)unt is a West Philly performance artist, and their self-titled album is available to stream currently on bandcamp, otherwise check out their social media below to stay up to date!

Witch H(c)unt: Facebook // Bandcamp
 

SIDENAIL - SIDENAIL EP REVIEW

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Philadelphia's underground scene is very DIY and very punk. It's been amazing seeing the different forms in which people interpret the words DIY and punk, and SIDENAIL is one of those bands that are taking the language and making it meaningful.

Comprised of members Garrett Bolin, and Dorianna Thornton, the SIDENAIL EP was recorded and mixed by Curtis Cooper. Dori and Garrett both did Vox, and the duo switch off on guitar and bass throughout the quirky EP. Put out in November of 2016, the EP is a quick, five-track collection of songs that are best described if I just give you the opportunity of listening to them.

Which you should, cause I really dig this EP.
Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

SIDENAIL EP Tracklist:
1. Marijuana Girlfriend
2. Communion
3. Falling In A Hole
4. Drug Dealer Blues
5. Shit Stains

 

 

 

 

One of the shortest EP's I've ever written about, the self-titled collection comes in at around 8 minutes long. "Marijuana Girlfriend," introduces the listener in an almost deceiving, uncanny way. With Dori's voice emulating that of a more retro rockabilly vibe, which quickly turns into a more punk/screaming type of vocal performance. The combo of punk/rockabilly rock is intriguing and powerful. I really loved this opening track because it set up listeners for the kinds of sounds they'd be experiencing in the latter half of the EP.

"Marijuana Girlfriend" also uses voice over effects to emphasize the ironic, inclusive nature of the track. I mean honestly this is really just the best part about this album - scratch that, the EP boasts a lot of impressive and fun elements. Of course, as any punk EP should be doing, the social commentary in Sidenail's EP is similar to projects the members also have ongoing like Witch H(c)unt. 

Another thing I admired was Dori's unabashed and free spirited way of expression in tracks like "Communion" and "Falling In A Hole."

Check out "Falling In A Hole" streaming below!

All-in-all, I've always been intrigued by the DIY punk scene - and SIDENAIL is fleshing out this genre with unlikely effects. Blending techniques and genres to create a sound that is addictive, paranoid, and in general fun to listen to. 

I definitely jumped around my room in frustration to this album many times throughout the weeks of finals - so you should too. For more on SIDENAIL, check out their social media below, and definitely don't skip out on this one.

SIDENAIL: Facebook // Bandcamp