EP review

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

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

With Sails Ahead - Morning Sun Review

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We've been following With Sails Ahead for actual years now, and as one of the first bands to support The Hook, they'll always have a soft spot in our hearts. We recently watched them open up for bands like Emarosa and Jule Vera, which is our way of saying clearly our pals are going places, and it makes us so happy we could cry.

But we won't, and that's because Morning Sun, their brand new EP is out.

The NJ based five piece continues to impress us as they grow, and Morning Sun is an astonishing third addition to their discography, and their first release since June 2016's Years In Waiting. The 6-track EP is a heartfelt, passion infused open wound that With Sails Ahead lays out for listeners to witness and bare. 

Album Art: Caring Wong

Album Art: Caring Wong

Morning Sun Tracklist:
1. Dissappear
2. Willow
3. Always Clouded, Never Clear
4. Pixelated
5. Synapses Fire
6. Beesly


 

 

 

With Sails Ahead have solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with, not only in their scene, but as they come up in the world of music. We're holding on tight for the journey, and you should be too!

Morning Sun is an emotional, angst ridden EP that keeps the listener in check. I was also sincerely impressed by the togetherness the band has shown in their growth, while maintaining the reason why we loved With Sails Ahead in the first place. Morning Sun is going to be more instrumentally technical and exciting, while also showing it's bravado and spirit in lyricism and contextual content. All of the tracks are superb, but my personal favorite would be closing track, "Beesly." For myself, this track really encapsulates this coming of age for With Sails Ahead. Morning Sun is the reawakening of the passion that this post hardcore quartet brings to the table.

With the recent announcement of a summer tour, you definitely don't want to miss an update from With Sails Ahead, so check out their social media links down below to remain up on the happenings of their lives!

We know we sure will be!

With Sails Ahead: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr

Shin Guard - Five Songs Review

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It's been a while since we've gotten some pop punk, Shin Guard is helping us change that, and we're all here for it. The Pittsburgh foursome are working hard to bring what the feel to the table in their latest release, Five Songs.

Five Songs is actually a four track EP released back in December, and Shin Guard have given themselves the title of 'Pittsburgh Sadness' so there's that. It's gonna be a lot of feelings, and some yelling, but if you're ready to throw down then we are, too.

Owen Traynor (vocals, guitar, songwriting, synthesis), Joe Bojarski (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Jake Yencik (bass, backing vocals), and Ryan Yester (drums) make up Shin Guard and have worked hard together to make leaps and bounds in improvement from their initial release, Leglike, back in April 2017. 

Check out their tracklist below to follow along!

Photography: Jake Yencik

Photography: Jake Yencik

Five Songs Tracklist:
1. Bemis Point
2. Corsages
3. You Turned Everything To Paper
4.Flubline


 

 

 

 

Opening track "Bemis Point" doesn't feel like the perfect fit for me, as a listener, for opening track. It shows off where the band's headspace is, but second track, "Corsages" holds a lot more weight for me, so I sort of wish the two were flip flopped as it would've made the listening experience better and more streamlined. "Corsages" also shows off a hell of a lot more of talent then "Bemis Point" which would've just aided the band in creating an EP that showed off their absolute best talent, track by track.

Five Songs definitely gets better as it goes on, as I really only stumbled on "Bemis Point" which felt out of place in comparison to the other three tracks that follow. "You Turned Everything To Paper" uses an interesting spoken word technique to open itself up, disenchanting the listener into melancholy. The lyricism is potent and good, and the instrumental synthetics that go into the track make it feel like a hybrid ambient bedroom track. Interesting stuff.

Closing track, "Flubline" is probably the most fitting with "Corsages" and the sound that the band feels the most proficient in. I wanted more tracks like this. Tracks that said a lot without having to say a lot - that spoke instrumentally to the listener, that used experiences that felt relatable to the emotion Shin Guard seemed to want to be going for. I think these four guys have a solid ground to work off of, and I'm interested to see where they're headed and what sound they decide to settle in on and hone.

Until then, you can keep up with Shin Guard down below with their social media links, and if you're ever in Pittsburgh, be sure to check them out!

Shin Guard: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr // YouTube

Overwinter - Condor Review

Photographer: Richard Sanders

Photographer: Richard Sanders

We've been sitting on this review for a long time - and we're not proud of it, ok? This artist and this album, however, are near and dear to our hearts. Having played multiple Hook Showcases, as well as being a dynamic, outgoing and interesting performer, Overwinter is a seasoned Hook Veteran

Their debut EP, Condor, is what's been on our minds for (we're ashamed to say) the last three months. It's about damn time we're giving it the credit it's due. The 5-track EP was created in sensible DIY fashion in North Philadelphia, a bluesy, somber look into love and hate and loneliness - all of this with the quirky addition of electro-pop synth to tie it all together.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Art: Jordyn Lyric

Album Art: Jordyn Lyric

Condor Tracklist:
1. Colours
2. Not Mine
3. Condor
4. Apostle
5. Let Go

 

 

 

 

Considering that Condor is Overwinter's first, official release we were highly impressed. It exerts itself into the heads of listeners in a sonically unique way. Francis' (aka Overwinter) voice lays over the tracks, melting in and out of moments while you listen. The use of track samples to enable new, creative ideas make Condor feel familiar and exciting all in one. As far as consistency, Condor shows an intermediate level of planning and coordination in track selection - something that not a lot of DIY artists can say when they're first starting out.

We know, we know we're a little late to the party. So late to the party that Overwinter is already planning new releases for 2018, some of which already in the works, and thanks to Condor and Overwinter's persistent energy and presence in the DIY Philadelphia scene, that release is heavily anticipated. 

Let's get back to the point, though.

"Apostle" is by far my favorite track off of the EP. It's sultry, sexy, dark, brooding, exciting and using all of it's elements in an important way. "Apostle" really gathers up all of Condor and says THIS IS WHAT I'VE GOT - and Overwinter isn't joking around. The EP's tightness grows in the last three tracks, and we're interested in seeing the progression Overwinter has made in their upcoming releases.

The Philadelphia native plays shows constantly, so we'll be leaving Overwinter's social media links down below so you can always stay up to date. And we'll make a promise, too. Next time they release something, we'll be on top of that as soon as humanly possible (we're one human so, it might be 3-5 business days).

As always, much love to Overwinter, and thanks for reading!

Overwinter: Facebook

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

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

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