EP Review

The Perls - The Age of Isolation Review

East Coast meets West Coast with Indie Pop duo The Perls, who quite literally created their debut EP from separate sides of the country - and honestly that alone is impressive. What's even more impressive is The Perls themselves, I mean honestly I'm losing my mind right now.

Composed of multi-instrumentalist Evan Linsey and singer-songwriter Kevin Hupp, The Perls followed up their single release in 2016 with their debut EP, The Age of Isolation, released on December 29th, 2017. Kevin and Evan produced the entire album themselves despite being on opposite sides of the country (Los Angeles and Boston, respectively). The fruition of this hard work and even harder situation is an EP that blends effortlessly, creating a space for listeners to get lost in and fall in love with.

Check out the tracklist below!

Zach Turcich / artwork

Zach Turcich / artwork

The Age of Isola Tracklist:
1. The Age of Isolation
2. Play Cool
3. Anymore
4.Videos (On TV)
5. HNY

 

 

 

 

This EP is impressive from start to finish. For the first time in a while I was able to just enjoy the listening experience. The Perls have meticulously put together a collection of tracks that effortlessly exist. From mixing/mastering to lyricism to instrumental output, The Perls feel like seasoned veterans when it comes to making music. 

With each track at a little over 2 minutes, and only one being over 3, this EP flies right by you while you're listening, making it an easy EP to put on over and over again. I typically go through every track and dissect them, but The Perls made my job really easy on this one. Every track is it's own persona that sits in the same circle as the rest. While I enjoyed every track vehemently, I also had two favorites that I'd like to focus on for their sound expansion and dynamic.

My absolute favorite track off of The Age of Isolation is "Play Cool," the track has a chorus so fire it made me almost weep the first time I heard it. The Perls have impressively incapsulated this indie/folk/pop hybrid that seeps out of every moment of listening. My second favorite track, and ironically enough it wouldn't load for me so it was one of the last tracks I was able to listen to, was "Videos (On TV)." The track is so gosh darn smooth, another chorus that makes me wanna explode with joy, and just an absolute charm to listen to.

Now, of course, just because these tracks are my favorites doesn't mean the other tracks aren't - let's be real here, this EP is one of the best, well recorded and performed EPs I've had the pleasure of reviewing in quite a long time. We'll definitely be following The Perls as they progress forward, and I sincerely can't wait to hear what they've got coming out next.

Until then, The Age of Isolation is a winner.

To follow these darling pals, check out their social media down below and support their cause, you won't regret this one!

The Perls: Facebook // Instagram

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

steve. - Boo-Shemi Review

New Brunswick, NJ back at it again with the music talent - and we've always just been along for the ride. Peep trio, steve. - bringing us right back to our basement roots, and let's be real, we're happy to be there.

steve. is comprised of members Eric (ex. Bird Hotel and Semiotics)on bass & vox, Zach (also in The Great Depression) on drums & vox, and Kyle (Wisteria, Semiotics) on guitar & vox. The band's been around for a little over a year, and back in November they released their debut EP, Boo-shemi. The 6-track EP was produced by Kyle O'Connor and Nicholas Rapon, engineered by John Naeder and Ben Luckman, and mastered by Rachel Lightner. All songs written and performed by steve., and ddditional vocals included Nicholas Rapon, Seth Blissenbach, and Ally Rose!

And, if you're asking us (which, you are, right?) that's a bunch of names that sound like they're going to make a really stellar EP. Spoiler alert: they did. Check out the tracklist below so you can follow along!

Artwork: Vanessa Lasky

Artwork: Vanessa Lasky

Boo-Shemi Tracklist:
1. TF Happened to that Miguel Song?
2. SEGA Memecast
3. Soft Serve
4. Heart Attack on Titan
5. Purp Durp
6. Foney Hawk








Boo-Shemi's tracks are on the shorter side - but they fit with their up-beat, whimsical stylized lyricism and vocal upkeep. 

The EP begins with "TF Happened to that Miguel Song," which sets the tone for the rest of the EP in certain ways. One of which being that upbeat instrumental sound we were talking about, and the other about stylizing the vocals - reminiscent of our favorite DIY groups - the opening voice, "Sitting in my room alone / while you're out with all my friends / telling them how much you hate me / and how much you'll never miss me."  A theme that follows through the rest of the album with tracks like "Soft Serve," and "Foney Hawk."

Our favorite track, though, is definitely "Purp Durp," because of a few things. One of which being it's differentiation in sound then the previous or following tracks, and also the lyricism on this one is absolute perfection poetically. You should check out the bandcamp stream of it below, so you can hear what we're talking about too!

Overall, we're really digging this EP. It's quirky, fun, and fast paced - a nice teaser for maybe what can be expected from steve. in the new year! Either way, we're down for it - and we're down for all the great music coming out of NJ as of late, so thanks steve.

Definitely do check out Boo-Shemi, all six tracks are unique, personal and fun little compilations to croon over that girl you used to be into, or the self-depricating moments of early adulthood. Either way, check out steve.'s bandcamp and links down below for more!

steve.: Facebook // Bandcamp // Instagram // Twitter

Ray Hodge - Braveheart Review

Bringing his first release to the table, Ray Hodge's Braveheart EP is able to introduce, entice listeners. The EP, set to release on October 28th, shows us the different musical ideas Ray has to offer. Ray himself being from Jamaica, Queens, brings a soulful performance to every track and yet still has impactful parts, giving great highs and sultry lows. 

With a voice similar to Michael David Rosenberg ( Passenger), Ray definitely has that coffee shop tone that is supported by raw emotion. His music carries a message of knowing yourself, working hard and no matter how you feel, you are never alone.

Here is the EP stream of of Ray's Soundcloud!

After you take a listen to Braveheart, I think you'll be like the rest of us, putting it on repeat. Here is something Ray had to say about the EP, "Each song on the Braveheart EP has a theme of learning to overcome obstacles and to love yourself. Yes, they are inspired by situations that can be seen as sad, however are meant to leave you with hope and awakening that Warrior, King or Queen within you. When I wrote the songs that hope and faith was born from a place in me I thought was dead. All things must come to end but nothing truly dies, that's one thing I've learned in this process, it's an amazing feeling I'm excited to share."

Personally, there is something about every song that has me hooked, while each song is a different experience.

"I am King" is an amazing opener to the record, bringing me back to one of my favorite tracks, "Woods" by Bon Iver. "Voodoo" is a rocking song that smacks you right away and really shows off the instrumental side of this project. "If It's Easy" has that electronic pulse to it that is a beautiful mix of club music and layers of lush vocals.

"Stand Up" starts off by playing with the listeners ears, throwing sounds at us; gracefully going into a song with a great message. It also has this crazy synth bass that makes all the drops that much sweeter. "Fast Drive" has Ray belting almost the entire track and band really supports his sound well, especially the nasty guitar solo in the breakdown. Lastly the title track, "Braveheart," is my favorite, because it has all the qualities of the entire album, and a catchy hook to match. It does everything from fast to slow and high to low giving it a nice mix. The eclectic side of Ray Hodge shines here, reminding me of a song I would here on a television show, (hint hint: Shameless).

This record is insane and that is an understatement. As a Philadelphian, I could see myself hearing this on the radio, most likely on WXPN and Shazaming every one of these songs. Ray's message on top of musicality is a force to be reckon with.

Ray had more to say on this, "What I try to do differently than other artists is to make it about more than just the lights and glam, more than just a lyric or a good song. I create the land and the fans build the houses. In that, we make this place our place, where we become the Vibrations and electricity and in that form,we are one. We are not alone. I make it ok to release the happiness, sadness, or anger as we share it among each other in these moments we purify."

If you've already listened to the EP,  Ray also released this video for the song "I am King."

Keep a look out for Ray Hodge in NYC, maybe sooner in a town near you. Without reservation the Hook gives this album a 10/10 and can't wait to hear what's next to come! Until then, check out Ray Hodge's social media below!

Ray Hodge: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

The Orphan, The Poet - Terrible Things EP Review

Dayton, Ohio-based alternative rock band The Orphan The Poet's newest release, Terrible Things, is an exciting and fresh new alt-rock EP. It was released earlier this summer and it really epitomizes the current wave of alt-rock groups in a positive light.

The Orphan The Poet have shared the stage with acts such as Dance Gavin Dance, Conditions, I, The Mighty, and more. Substream Magazine described the lead track off of this EP as “Mayday Parade meets Manchester Orchestra.” The band consists of David Eselgroth (Vocals/Guitar), Dakota Johnson (Guitar), Jake Floyd (Bass), and Sam Gordon (Drums).

The EP was Engineered by Nick Ingram and produced by Machine (Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, Every Time I Die). The album was released on June 3rd.

The Terrible Things EP kicks off with “Forward,” a driving modern rock anthem with a really sweet lead melody peppered in throughout, melting with wavy distortion like a punk rock Soundgarden.

The title track, “Terrible Things,” plays wonderful homage and calls back to classic early 2000's pop-punk, which brings a nostalgic smile to my eyes. I can clearly see what these guys are all about when they sing the hook to this impressive single. This track is the highlight of the EP for me. You can watch the music video for it right here to get a sample of what The Orphan The Poet has to offer.

The rally cry of the EP is “Bombs Away,” a fun number that really hits the middle of the EP with the energy it needs to hold everything together. This EP is relatively quick in it's runtime, and The Orphan The Poet clearly know how to make it seem like it lasts.

“Bombs Away” paired with the slower next track, “Wild & Young,” really set a good pace. “Wild & Young” is your youth statement thesis of the EP. “Watch You Burn” ends the EP with a dark and powerful track. The energy keeps up all the way until the end.

Terrible Things EP Tracklist:

  1. Forward
  2. Terrible Things
  3. Bombs Away
  4. Wild & Young
  5. Watch You Burn

Overall, I'm going to give Terrible Things a not terrible score of 8.5/10.

The Orphan, The Poet really shines on this release and, while they don't really show me anything new to the genre, they certainly know how to construct and perform tight, memorable alt-rock punk classics.

Keep an eye out for these guys in the future as they start to work on their next project. You can find them at the links provided below!

The Orphan, The Poet: Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

Circadian Frequency - MYTHOS EP Review

Mythos is the new EP from Jersey Hardcore/Prog rockers Circadian Frequency.  You may recognize them as The Hook’s most recent featured artist. We promised a review of Mythos and that’s what I’m here to give you, but first let’s talk about the band.

Circadian Frequency is a trio formed in 2012, combining hardcore punk and prog rock sensibilities. Think At the Drive-In. The band has been working on their trilogy of EP’s ever since. Guitarist/Frontman Tom Bair says the odyssey has been a planned escape route from his daily life, something we all may need from time to time.

Mythos is volume 2 of the trilogy, with volume 1, Origins, being released back in 2013. Due to the narrative nature of the EP’s, it would have been foolish of me not to go listen to Origins. To be brief, I enjoyed it. Origins showcases some real originality and creative songwriting. The lyrics are dark, and tell the beginnings of Circadian Frequency’s odyssey. From a mutiny at sea, to the continuing survival of the mutineers. 

Before I get to the review, take a second to look over the art and the track list:

1 - IV. SEARCHLIGHT
2 - V. ASCENSION
3 - VI. ENDEAVOR

Each track on Origins and Mythos covers a number of themes. Mythos opens with part 4 of the tale, entitled “Searchlight”, which handles the themes of pursuit, tedium, and isolation. The EP starts off strong with “Searchlight," a powerful punk track. Bair’s screaming vocals fit in the song perfectly as we hear the continuation of the story. The track then settles down into a lighter instrumental section, with some cool background synth parts highlighting the somewhat unsettling music in this section. Then the song explodes right back into the hardcore verse before ending with another instrumental section. “Searchlight” is exciting and unpredictable.

“Searchlight” neatly flows into the next chapter “Ascension”. The track starts off light, but each part gradually transforms and builds intensity, giving way to a very cool, more prog sounding section, with a nice melodic guitar lead. The lyrics cover the themes of anguish, revelation, and consolation. However, the listener isn't off the hook yet, for they will be soon be engulfed by the band's heavy guitar distortion and pounding drums in "Ascension". "Endeavor," The final track on the EP, expresses the concepts of culmination, illumination, and optimism.

“Searchlight” flows into “Ascension” very well, which is a well-used musical storytelling device throughout Mythos. “Ascension” gives us a little room to breathe at the beginning, with a small bass/drum intro. Then a dreamy clean guitar strums a few chords. Things build up gradually again and the vocals come in on a reggae inspired verse, continuing Circadian Frequency’s theme of unpredictable songwriting. The rest of the song is filled with more interesting melodic guitar parts, and even a little bit of melodic bass (which is one of the fastest ways to my heart). “Ascension” provides a good conclusion to part 2 of Circadian Frequency’s trilogy. 

It would be a real tragedy if I didn’t briefly mention the artwork for Mythos. The cover art is done by frontman Tom Bair, and reminds me a bit of Dethklok and Metalocalypse, which never fails to make me smile. So kudos for that. 

Overall, I quite enjoyed Mythos. I think it is a good follow-up to Origins and showcases a nice evolution for the band. I definitely enjoyed Mythos a bit more than I did Origins, and that’s a good thing. It’s nice to see a band grow and see their music get even better. I didn’t want to reveal too many details of the story, because I think you ought to listen yourself and form your own impressions and interpret it as you will. That being said, Circadian Frequency are good storytellers, and I’m looking forward to hearing the conclusion of this Trilogy. You can stream Origins and Mythos for free on Bandcamp, and the band also offers both EP’s for download, pay what you want.

Rating: 7/10

Circadian Frequency: Facebook // Bandcamp

Primatives - Primatives EP Review

It's about time The Hook has gotten up to speed in good old fashion, offensive punk - and Primatives is here to serve it up.

Located in Philadelphia, PA the four-piece is an established 4 piece raw and aggressive punk band that spends their time getting wreckless. Created in 2012, Primatives brings together good friends Kyle Ranshaw (Vocals and Guitar) David P. Harvey III (Vocals and Guitar), as well as Andy Buch (Bass), and James Berardi (Drums).

We love strong fast paced, driving rhythms, aggressive vocal work, and a strong guitar melody just as much as anyone else - but Primatives has given listeners a 6-track EP, one that moves between moody and raw, to comfortably punk, to old school influences like Nirvana or Queens of the Stone Age.

Check out the tracklist below!

Primatives EP Tracklist:
1. Once Upon A Child
2. Lil Creamsy
3. Birds Of A Feather
4. Peasant's Fare
5. Buzzard
6. Vagrant Remastered







Opening track "Once Upon A Child" is a perfect track to introduce the EP, while it's heavy in the chorus and solo aspects, the track is essentially an overview as to what can be expected from the entirety of the EP - with each track ringing in around 3-4 minutes, the EP feels much longer than that - maybe because of the hard-hitting instrumental work, or the constant vocal switch, half-sung, half-aggressive, and throaty.

Primatives EP moves similarly between the six tracks, each giving listeners a taste as to what can be expected from the band, a solid bass line, drums to back, vocals between semi-screaming and droning. Hard-hitting and loud, songs like "Lil Creamsy" fit in enough solos to lose your mind. Of course, what's an classic punk without a track devoted solely to the impressive and never ending work of guitar, drums and bass - and this EP wouldn't be complete without track 4, "Peasant's Fare." While final track "Vagrant" wraps up the EP with a thrashing solo, and mind blowing almost 4 minutes of shred - a summation of everything you listened to, but way more intense.

You heard it here, this EP is a solid work-through of what Primatives is currently working with as a band. We listened to this EP a lot at the gym, or right before work - ya know, when you need to get shit done, and while this album definitely isn't relaxing, it does get shit done. And for that we're giving this EP a solid 8/10.

The Hook is stoked to see what else Primatives can bring to the table moving forward. These hardworking guys are always playing shows right in Philly, sharing sneak peaks of sets, new music, and all-in-all good stuff. For more on Primatives, definitely do check out their social media, listen to their music, support some really awesome dudes!

Primatives: Website // Soundcloud // Facebook

When Ships Collide - WSC III Review

Over the course of late 2015 and early 2016, When Ships Collide has spent their time sharing three EPs, all of which are well worth the listen – but, especially their most recent addition, WSC III

Released on June 8th, WSC III is Mom Approved™ (seriously, my Mom really liked these songs) and definitely Hook recommended. WSC III is the final installment in the three-part EP series, and culminates the collective sounds that are explored throughout the other two EPs.

The Philadelphia rock band includes Troy Kominiak (guitar & vocals), Toddy Selby (bass & vocals) and Jake Detwiler (drums & drums) to create what makes up When Ships Collide – and can I gloat about how impressive their sound is for a three-piece rock band? I did it anyway.

WSC III is an enjoyable collective of music, one that sincerely highlights some old school alt rock sounds; sounds that I remember hearing as a kid – Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly, The Ramones, Billy Joel, & even Freddie Mercury. Maybe that was why my Mom really liked these guys, or maybe it was simply because this is really great music. Stuff you can move too, that tells a story – not only lyrically, but instrumentally as well.

The pairing of vocals, which between Kominiak and Selby are indescribably unique, guttural, and throaty paired with the upbeat, classic rock instrumentals that makes for a listen that isn’t comparable to any band I’ve reviewed thus far. 

Like, these guys are really stinkin' good ok.

Artwork: Andrew Shearer

Artwork: Andrew Shearer

WSC III Tracklist:
1. Wrong Again
2. Rave On
3. Can You Blame Me?
4. What's Your Plan?










The EP includes 4 tracks (as seen above), one of which a Buddy Holly Cover, “Rave On,” which really sets the mood for the EP. Meanwhile, opener "Wrong Again," is the culmination of what the WSC project seems to be - this track really captured the overall vibe of what When Ships Collide was working with over the course of these EPs. 

Honestly though, each of these tracks was stellar, and I have a feeling they'll be on repeat for the rest of the month.

I was sincerely impressed by the way in which this EP moved, where each track used similar techniques with vocal work, but the songs are not tiring or annoying with repetition or similarities. Instead, they played off of one another for impeccably smooth transition without losing the listener along the way.

Instrumentally, vocally, and lyrically, When Ships Collide is bringing a pretty extensive, exciting game to the table. Their sound is perfected, nostalgic, and perfect for drinking milkshakes to (I imagine).

Rating: 9.5/10

Definitely check out When Ships Collide, check out WSC III as the final installment in their EP series, and check out their other music as well. You can't go wrong with these guys, so start doin' right by taking a peek at their links below.

Share a meme, tell them your favorite painter, ask them about their favorite diner food - you know the drill.

When Ships Collide: Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud // Bandcamp