EP

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

Hoser - Nosebleeder Review

Our Philadelphia favorites, Hoser, have drudged through those winter blues with a nice little two track EP, and we feel blessed. Nosebleeder was released on February 5th, so we may be late to the party, but we're staying for the celebration.

The 2-track EP was recorded with Mike Britt at the bins, and mastered by Troy Glessner at Specter Studios. According to the band, after their brief hiatus, the EP "was recorded very quickly last summer while in the midst of booking our first national tour. So we pretty much had a gun to our head to finish by August. It was a very crazy insane summer. We finished recording, toured, got home, and than did much needed work in post on the EP. So technically the EP was released on tour but it was a terrible version and we pulled it the day we got home. So we like to think that it was a demo and this is the real release. As you can tell we have gotten heavier and more dynamic. We have added our black/death metal love into the music on Nosebleeder. Kensington and Somerset is about the ongoing struggle of staying clean and the terrible cycle of relapse and lose of hope. I wrote that song when I was really young like 19 or 20. I am and most of Hoser are recovering Heroin Addicts, so the song means a lot to us. We are really happy to finally have a good recording of it, and finally have it out in the world."

Check out the tracklist down below!

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Nosebleeder Tracklist:
1. Nosebleeder
2. Kensington & Somerset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In true Hoser form, the EP is a gritty, rock & roll saga that feels much longer and more intense than just two tracks. While the tempo is fast paced, it doesn’t feel unwarranted. I actually really enjoy this harder Hoser, with an opening track that has an intro to make you shake in your boots.

Their endearment for noisy black metal is prominent in this EP, and we’re perfectly fine with it - opening track “Nosebleeder” is going to give you what you may have been yearning in previous EP’s with Hoser; constantly teetering on the edge of rock & punk.

Check it out below!

“Kensington & Somerset” revives a more European style Punk that, while differing from our old favorites, keeps Hoser right on track with what they want & love about making music. While it’s extremely short, it closes the EP in a potent & meaningful way! This EP is one you don’t want to miss, and while we’ve been sitting on it, you definitely shouldn’t!

You can check out Hoser on their social media down below to keep up with them in the meantime. Otherwise, stream their music above on their bandcamp!

Hoser: Facebook // Instagram

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

HAZYY - BREATHE Review

Another Philadelphia native is up at bat here at The Hook, and we're ready for HAZYY to take a swing! The chillwave, indie pop foursome is celebrating the August 11th release of BREATHE their latest EP.

Comprised of Benjamin Wright (Vocals), Patrick Radecki (Bass, Synths, Beats), Jesse Christaldi (Guitar), and Stephen Jasinski (Drums), the project shared their 5-track EP, BREATHE, over a month ago. It was recorded and mixed by Patrick Radecki, and mastered by Mark Trewella at Full Circle Mastering. BREATHE is a vibin' lil EP that brings out what you like most about a more progressive indie pop sound. 

Check out the tracklist below!

Artwork by Yuri Zalewski a.k.a. Jay Di

Artwork by Yuri Zalewski a.k.a. Jay Di

BREATHE Tracklist:
1. Gone Cold
2. Wrong
3. Hangin' On
4. Pulse
5. Stay

 

 

 


With hints of R&B influence and also the assurance of a good beat, BREATHE opens up with "Gone Cold" the first of five chilling songs that combine ideas of heartbreak, of loss and longing. The EP moves along in a dreamy, understated way that makes the tracks feel underwhelming at first until they prove themselves. "Wrong" is my favorite off of the album. The sultry beat and vocal combo makes it an instant hit off the EP. I'm also a huge fan of distortion and this track has that which is tight! It also is super catchy. A song you want to grind all up on someone with, passionate might by the word I'm looking for.

"Hangin' On" is a much more typical alt-rock jam, similar to bands like Portugal The Man or Cold War Kids. "Pulse" is a funky, very electronic mid-way song that reverbs hard against those that surround it. This one gave me an 80's new wave vibe for sure. Lastly "Stay" closes out the EP with a sassy beat that dances around the listener. Albeit the lightest track of the album, this one feels like something you'd hear on the radio (and maybe we will one day). 

Overall, HAZYY isn't reinventing the wheel, but they are making good music that you can get hooked on and that is all that matters. You definitely want to check out BREATHE and check out HAZYY's social media to keep up with everything they've got going on down below!

As always thanks for reading.

HAZYY: Website

Juice Wax - Don't Eat Me Review

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I love living in Philadelphia because of the music, let's get that straight from the get-go. It's a never ending stream of soulful, funky euphoria that I want to always be trapped in. That's where our latest music kick comes in, Juice Wax, who have quickly claimed a place in our top 5 listening for the month!

According to the band the group started as Jessie Wexler and Rosalie Swana writing songs and performing acoustic performances, which then evolved into a group that combines a live and electronic setting into one experience. The group quickly included Jonah Christian (guitar), Jake Taenzler (bass), and Spenser Forwood (drums). Juice Wax released their debut EP, Don't Eat Me, in July of this year! The 6-track EP is a collection of tracks that range from short to long, but all embody a disoriented jazz infused manifesto that oozes out of all the spaces it inhabits. The record also features guest horn performances by John Swana, Randy Kapralick, and Chris Farr.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Don't Eat Me Tracklist:
1. This Way I Feel
2. I Think I'm Thinking, Again
3. Dapem Dadio
4. Share 
5. See Far
6. Bluff

 

 

"This Way I Feel" opens up the EP as a disorienting chant - it welcomes the listener in to the escape that Don't Eat Me presents itself as. It is also the shortest track on the album, perhaps preparing you for "I Think I'm Thinking Again" which seems to be one of the heavy weights of the album. It competes with closing track "Bluff" both in length (7+ minutes vs 8+ minutes) and also as two of the most concise tracks on the album. They show off Swana's velveteen voice against the dreamy seascape of instruments. "Share" had been previously released as a single earlier in July, and is a comfortable track that sits nicely in the middle of the album to balance it out.

Otherwise, other tracks are going to be much more instrumentally influenced rather than "sing-song" type. This makes this album perfect to put on while the world falls apart, in my opinion at least.

Juice Wax are melding a few different genres together to create something really cool and exciting. As a listener, I can't wait to hear what's next from them. Where else can they take me with just a soft horn? The possibilities are endless, honestly. If you dig this stuff, which we're hoping you do, you should check out their social media links below to always stay up to date on what Juice Wax is up to!

As always thanks for reading!

Juice Wax: Facebook // Bandcamp

Orion Freeman - Morning Son Review

A singer/songwriter from the woods near Philadelphia, PA, Orion Freeman has recently release their brand new album, Morning Son. Their first release since 2014, Morning Son is a soft, folk inspired 9-track album that carries listeners through the journey of a childlike appreciation. 

Released April 24, 2017, Morning Son was produced by Orion Freeman, recorded (partially with the power of the sun) at Birchwood Studio in Granville, PA, mixed and mastered at Cambridge Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA, mixed by Jim Salamone and Todd Mecaughey, with additional mixing by Orion Freeman, and mastered by Jim Salamone.

Orion Freeman had this to say about the release, “This second record of mine comes at a time of massive change in my world, and in the world around me. It represents a stripping down, a simplification, a return to the places i'm from and the emotions I've lived with. My first record was a tour-de-force, all-in attempt at encapsulating my entire existence up until that point- twenty seven musicians, strings and horns, over an hour of musical journeying, through the void and back. With Morning Son it felt super important for me to at least temporarily scale back, down to the base ingredients of voice and guitar, harmony, with sounds of everyday life peppered in, and just a select few other instruments to add to the overall texture and feel. It feels to me more like a single chapter this time around, as opposed to an entire book"

It began as simply an extended letter of gratitude and acknowledgment to the small child within my own self, who still felt like something was missing or had been left unsaid. I had no initial intentions of even having it professionally mixed. But what it became over the course of the recording sessions was something else entirely- a spotlight on certain emotions that in our culture don't often see the light of day; and in turn, an offering to those who may have (or still) feel the same way...”

Check out the tracklist below!

Morning Son Tracklist:
1. Farewell
2. Jesus in Denial
3. Flower in a Vase
4. Mourning Son
5. Icarus
6. Family Tree
7. Salvation (The Ballad of a Good Boy) 
8. Morning Sun
9. The Return

 

 

Morning Son is a 9-track album that features passionate lyrics and powerful instrumentals. It begins with “Farewell,” a thirty-second intro that includes seagull sounds and a short guitar chord that transitions seamlessly into “Jesus in Denial.” It’s slow, mellow, and calming, something to listen to when you’re contemplating life and doing some soul-searching. The songs on Morning Son feel like they should definitely be part of the soundtrack to an indie movie about a group of friends finding themselves and making precious memories together.

Morning Son makes me think of soft sunsets and warm breezes, nostalgia and deep feelings. It was really hard to decide what my favorite song was because I truly enjoyed them all, but I guess it really depends on which one impacted me the most.

They all flow on an emotional level for me.

The pretty, acoustic instrumentals and the soft vocals combined to create a powerful listening experience that took me away and had me deep in my feelings. But if I had to pick a single song to be my favorite, it would be track 5, “Icarus.” Maybe that’s because I’m such a fan of the Greek myth, but it’s also a great song. The lyric, “You can’t blame a man for chasing the sun” hit me hard.

My second favorite song is “Mourning Son,” not to be confused with “Morning Son,” which is the title track. “Mourning Son” is almost entirely instrumental, and songs like that really affect me more than others.

All in all, Morning Sun was a great album, and I’m a new fan of Orion Freeman. The album is available for streaming and purchase on Bandcamp, and you can follow Orion on social media for any updates from him!

Orion Freeman: Facebook // YouTube // Twitter // ReverbNation

Added Color - Psycho EP Review

A name change has lead Added Color to their latest, and most exciting release yet!

Added Color, formally known as Unconscious Disturbance, have debuted their brand new EP, Psycho. The collaborative effort of 2 years worth of writing and dozens of shows, Added Color has finally shared the quintessential EP to represent their sound and ideals! The 5-track EP, Psycho, is a funky, progressive pop rock type sound that is easy to get lost in - put it on in the car, windows down. 

According to their own biography, Added Color is a Brazilian/American rock band formed in Brooklyn, NY. Comprised of brothers Daniel and Kiko Freiberg (São Paulo), Tim Haggerty (Boston), and Danny Dahan (Washington DC). Added Color has played close to 200 shows in over 20 states in the USA, and toured internationally playing a mini-tour in Canada, a two week tour in Morocco and major festivals in Brazil such as Porão do RockThe Monsters of Rock Festival officially nominated them as one of five of Brazil’s upcoming rock bands. The band has received critical praise from PureVolume, Red Bull Music, The Huffington Post, AOL Noisecreep, and was chosen as a "must see show" by The Village Voice.

An impressive resume to boast about, sure. But were we impressed? Yes, yes we were. Check out the tracklist for Psycho below!

Psycho Tracklist:
1. Pyscho
2. Our Secret
3. Nasty Habit
4. About To Break
5. Scream

 

 

 

 

Psycho is an incredible EP in all ways that I want to listen to music. The instrumental aspect is captivating, smooth, a sound that lures the listener in from opening track to closing. The lyricism is enchanting, it begs to be sung along with, and in general the music feels good. It echoes, it ebbs and flows, it pushes Added Color above and beyond expectations from previous releases to now. 

Opening track "Psycho" could be on the radio. With an essence of rock, pop and indie that exchange between one another throughout the EP, Psycho is constantly showing me something new every listen. Between the edging guitar riffs, a smooth bass, and the static of the drumbeat alongside that classic rock vocal you're in for a hypnotic EP experience.

Check out the music video for "Psycho" below!

According to the band, the EP was decided out of 20+ songs that had been written. Each played at different shows to gauge responsiveness and reception. The top 5 of those tracks make up Psycho, and it's very clear that every track on this EP has a purpose. "Psycho" opens up to "Our Secret" which feels a little bit heavier instrumentally, but evens itself out to a smooth rock inspired track. "Nasty Habit" uses a fun group vocal tactic to highlight the chorus, while "About To Break" slows it down. Closing track "Scream" brings out the best of the previous four tracks in a way that's surprising and exciting.

I wish that this EP was longer, but maybe that's me being selfish. The opening and closing tracks felt the most powerful to me in all aspects, while the middle tracks yearned for something more at times. Overall, I'm excited to see what comes out of Added Color and where they're headed to next. With a debut release this well put together and groovy, the sky is limitless for the four piece!

To keep up with Added Color, check out their social media below and be sure to check out Psycho this summer!

Added Color: Website // Facebook // Instagram // Soundcloud

Erik Marley - Sour Dreams EP Reviewed

Sour Dreams

An area native, Erik Marley has 15 years of experience as a drummer/percussionist, and studied Jazz Performance and Classical Percussion, receiving a Masters Degree in Jazz Performance at Rowan University. Currently, he is a freelance Jazz musician and educator in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area. Sour Dreams is his latest 4-track studio EP, created alongside fellow Philadelphia musicians Alex Ayala (keyboards), Jacob Kelberman (guitar), and Mike Parisi (bass).

The production on Sour Dreams is clean (recorded, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Gendreau). Erik and his accompanists show a high level of technical ability, stamina and dexterity throughout the record. Despite being only four tracks, the album runs an impressive thirty minutes long. There is not a track on the album less than five minutes in run time.

Check out the tracklist & stream the EP below as you follow along!

Tracks 1 & 2, “Moon Fruit” and “Orange Waltz” are just about what you would expect from an instrumental jazz record. Musically impressive, toe tapping jams scattered with fast guitar and Rhodesy keyboard leads. While the tracks don’t feature any particularly memorable melodic lines in the lead or rhythm sections that you would be left humming upon the end of the tunes, I don’t feel that the point of this music was ever to exhibit such a quality. After all, this certainly is not pop music. Regardless, to other musicians especially, these tracks are impressive and enjoyable. It is excellent music to work or relax to, both in the background or in the foreground.

Tracks 3 & 4, “Créme Brulée” and “Brain Juice” are for sure the standout tracks for me.  “Créme Brulée” is the pretty track on the album, featuring etherial synth pads and, for the first time on this record, very subdued guitar. I would say that this song sounds very much the way a Claude Monet painting looks in that it is undoubtedly feels complete, but it is composed more of textures and chords than intricate details or melodies, unlike the rest of the record. 

“Brain Juice” is undoubtedly my favorite track on this EP. Out of all of the tunes it has the most calculated and memorable melodic structure, a riff that is revisited throughout the almost nine minute song. The riff satisfies the pop and rock lover inside of me, but maintains the jazz feel of the rest of the record. For sure this record is a diverse but cohesive work of art.

Check out Erik Marley’s Sour Dreams, and check out Marley's other social media to keep up to date.

Erik Marley: Bandcamp