Philly local

Curtis Cooper - Graceful Review

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We have been following Curtis Cooper since our 2016 inception as a music magazine. They are one of the biggest reasons we were successful in Philly, and we couldn’t thank them enough. When Curtis came to us with their latest album, we were beyond excited to get started.

Graceful is the third full length release - following Laughing In Line and Messy. With a whole year between Messy and Graceful, there is a lot to anticipate from the Philadelphia native and DIY legend. Graceful is an ode to Curtis Cooper - a turn around for the singer & songwriter that encapsulates years of learning, hurt, love, and loss into a succinct 13-track album.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Graceful Tracklist:
1. Breathe Out
2. Outta Here
3. Goodbye Gorgeous
4. Graceful
5. Best Dress
6. Tall
7. I Wish I Could Love You (ft. Ganou)
8. All Of The Time
9. Pretty
10. Latency
11. Can’t Decide
12. I Like You
13. I’m Glad

Instrumentally, Graceful is what I’ve always wanted from Curtis Cooper. It is poignant, heavy hitting, and beautiful. Indie-folk mixture of sound, Cooper uses every aspect of this album to lament, and lament hard. Curtis hasn’t lost any of themself in this album, instead highlighting on their already intellectual instrumental performance and heartfelt lyricism - while also upgrading their understanding of music’s full potential as a tool and art form to express oneself.

Something I’ve always admired about Curtis is their ability to write. Graceful does not lack any poetic emphasis, and while listening (if you can) reading the lyrics for this album will only make it that much sweeter, more tender, and hurtful (in a good way). Regardless, it takes a talented musician to understand the importance the whole thing takes - lyric, melody, instrument, and mood. This album encapsulates it - an impeccable, brooding, but matured take from Curtis Cooper.

Please check out this album, stream it, buy it, compliment Curtis personally about how stellar it is. You won’t regret it. To follow what’s going on for Curtis Cooper, check out their social media down below!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp

Party Muscles - Does It Even Matter? Review

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Party Muscles are a culmination of Philadelphia’s strongest music minds - a kinship between two friends working in a record store, bonding over their love for garage rock, melody, and good freakin’ tunes. Celebrating and riding the high from their August 2nd, 2019 release - Does It Even Matter?, Party Muscles are ready to play shows, make feel good tunes, and keep kickin’ ass.

Thanks to the efforts of current band lineup Colin McCarry, Beau Everett Gordon, Tyler Pursel and Joshua Strange for making up the indie rock infused sound of Party Muscles. A sound one could describe as fun, wildly talented, and always a damn good time. Does It Even Matter? is the bands debut effort - one that is an impressive, well written collection of bops sure to turn your summer around.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Does It Even Matter? Tracklist:
1. She Goes To Juuliard
2. Nascent
3. Peruvian Sunshine
4. Photography Raptor
5. I’m The Jaguar
6. Foliage
7. Lorraine
8. Capgun
9. Secret Language
10. Pocari Sweat
11. Inside Out

With inspiration coming from early 2000’s bands like The Strokes, The Libertines, Parquet Courts and The Hives, it’s easy to pick up on what Party Muscles wants their sound to be. Does It Even Matter? is an incredible example of a successful, impactful debut album that sets the standard for everything else to follow. It is well constructed, written with purpose, and performed meticulously. The 11-track album floats between itself, never skipping a beat, but never keeping it the same. The record was truly such a good time to listen to and enjoy, it made writing a review about it difficult.

Enough said.

All songs on the album were written by band creators, Tyler Pursel and Colin Mccarry. It was produced by Tyler Pursel and Josh Strange, and finally recorded at Strange Audio Electronics and Creep Records. A true Philadelphia project, through and through. What I enjoyed most about this album was that it created it’s own space to exist within. It is a breath of fresh air in a space that cultivates a hugely DIY core, and while Party Muscles and Does It Even Matter? are well crafted, and poignant, they never take themselves too seriously. Melodic, and groovy - their sound resonates with a multitude of listeners by culminating a variety of genre-esque sounds. Their draw on early 2000’s indie rock doesn’t over power their message, and my biggest criticism is I wish I could’ve read the lyrics for the tracks while listening.

Either way - this is a good album, and it makes me excited for the future of Party Muscles. Give it a listen, check out a show, buy some merch! The good people in Party Muscles have an August residency at Ortliebs - August 15th, 22nd and 29th, which means you have zero reason to miss out on these talented up & comers.

For more information, follow their social media links down below!

Party Muscles: Bandcamp // Facebook

Brother Martin - Led-Son Review

Photo:  Laura Jane Brubake

Photo:  Laura Jane Brubake

Jazz Fusion meets Indie Pop in Brother Martin's debut EP, Led-Son. The five track EP is a sweetheart of a release, one that will capture your heart from the moment you turn it on, so we suggest you turn that on.

With Led-Son being released back in January, the project includes Maria Mirenzi (vocals, baritone saxophone), Dan Espie (keyboard, vocals) , Jacob Kelberman (guitar), Jon Gruver (bass), and Austin Wagner (drums). Tracks 1-4 were recorded/mixed by Luke Shefski of Shefski Productions, and "Martin" was recorded/mastered live at Rittenhouse Soundworks by Michael Cumming, audio engineer. All of this hard work and effort has created an EP that often speaks for itself, whether that be in lyricism, performance, instrumentalism, or style. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Margot Gatenby

Artwork: Margot Gatenby

Led-Son Tracklist:
1. Led-Son    
2. Describing Time
3. On Top of a Mountain
4. For Tomorrow
5. Martin

 

 

 

 

Opening title track is one that extends an open hand to the listener, it says "come in, you're safe here," and that is the only way I can explain my experience listening to Led-Son by Brother Martin. The entire EP is witty, light, soft and easy to listen to. Not once did I feel off put by any track on the EP, and I really dug Brother Martin's ability to change up their range and style while still staying in a sound vein that felt familiar and productive.

"Describing Time" slows us down from opening track "Led-Son" and let's you sink into the warmth that is Brother Martin. The use of the saxophone to follow the vocals is smart, well placed, and quite frankly makes me melt a little every time I listen to it. "On Top Of A Mountain" is a fantastic little diddy that brings back a euphoric joy and carelessness to Led-Son that makes it feel ethereal, thank you piano.

"For Tomorrow" dials down the theatrics and brings you back into orbit, and closing track "Martin" sweeps up the whole experience that Led-Son was and packs it back up neatly where it came from. This sweet lil EP knows exactly what it's doing the whole way through, and it is a truly impressive put out for Brother Martin, seeing as the debut EP feels solid and put together. 

Honestly, this is just some good jams to simmer out too, and we recommend you do so. To follow Brother Martin and what they're up to, we've got their social media down below so you don't miss a single moment!

Brother Martin: Facebook // Instagram // Website

Something Like A Monument - Silhouettes Review

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Psychedelic soul is something we can get behind, and Something Like A Monument are doing it just the way we like it.

The Philadelphia foursome is a force to be reckoned with thanks to their latest release, Silhouettes. The five track EP is their first output since 2014, and while it's been a long time coming, those years having given S.L.A.M. something to brag about - an EP that not only shows off their mind numbingly incredible talent, but also proves that some things do get better with age. Two years, three recording studios, and ten tracks later, Silhouettes is the first of two five-track EPs the band has planned for the next year, and gosh darn it, we are excited. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

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Silhouette Tracklist:
1. Crimson Smoke
2. Tree of Doubt
3. B.L.T.B.  
4. Hours Believe
5. The Fawn

 

 

 

 

I have been complaining for a little while now that often bands who tout such a heavy and vintage genre like 'psychedelic' often have a habit of falling into a space that can feel overused or tired. Something Like A Monument have avoided this by incorporating the fundamentals of soul and psychedelic in their instrumental rhythm and melody, while their lyricism and vocal performance often hinges on a more new age indie rock - and this feels exciting in Silhouettes.

Just imagine Brendon Urie sang for Queens of the Stone Age and you've got S.L.A.M.

Opening track "Crimson Smoke" persuades the listener into the EP with the familiar vibration, the echoing voice of singer Jamie Shemanski. The twanging guitar, distorted and fuzzy from Jeff Lucci, while the constant nature of the bass, thanks to Don Custer, keeps time. The heaviness of the drums feels like the perfect amount of edge fueled by Josh Aptner. This track is only the gateway into the spiraling trip that Silhouettes makes.

"Tree Of Doubt" hits a bit heavier, flexing on "Crimson Smoke" with a vigor and prowess that pushes the EP forward. This track is one of my favorites, the culmination of sound makes the listening experience plain old enjoyable. I want to drive along a tree lined road in warm weather, windows down to this song. Six minute long giant, "B.L.T.B." is a great transitionary track, bringing it back down from the high before, while it pushes the listener vocally with a more rock & roll vibe, it fits in nicely on the EP.

"Hours Believe" and "The Fawn" close the EP out, and I don't want to say I feel a little disappointed by them, but I do. As two closing tracks, the EP felt front heavy listening wise. While these tracks excel in technique and S.L.A.M.'s typical bravado, they just feel a bit underwhelming in comparison to the tracks before them. I wonder if this could be resolved by a better EP tracklist setup, or if the EP is too long for it's own good. Obviously Silhouettes comes from a pair of EP releases, so I guess I'd be interested in hearing the follow-up EP to see if it exhibits the same problem or if this is simply just a calculative error in listing.

Either way, this EP has been on my mind for weeks. Let's get it on your mind, too. Check out Something Like A Monument via their social media links down below to never miss an update, and tune in for their next release hopefully sometime soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L.A.M: Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

Elephant Fire - Natural Heart Review

Photographer:  Melissa Lucciola

Photographer: Melissa Lucciola

To write an album is an undertaking, anyone will tell you this. Different bands have different processes to make albums happen - and Elephant Fire had their own, unique way of creating their most recent release, too.

Natural Heart is the September release from New Jersey band Elephant Fire. A rebirth since their last release back in 2014, a total of three years in between the two. The new album is a self proclaimed result of "a six month pilgrimage into the hearts of North America's national parks for this album. Guitar slung on my shoulder, the way of the coined “Natural Heart Tour" provided resonant rebirth in the desert vortices of red rock mountains, the great joys of the giant sequoia’s, and trillions of stars of the Milky Way galaxy fireside on the Rio Grande," says singer, Adam Wall.

Clearly an innovative, different process than most bands we've listened to. And what better way to inspire art than nature? We aren't sure. Either way, we've got the track list below so check that out before we delve into the belly of the beast that is Natural Heart.

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Natural Heart Tracklist:
1. Natural Heart
2.
Come With Me
3.
Lover's In The Bike Lane
4.
Burn Me Up
5.
It's Alright
6.  It's Rising
7. Karmic Siege 06:45

 

 

 

The 7-track LP is a psychedelic pop renaissance that came together with the help of Elephant Fire's four members. Adam Wall (Singer/Songwriter/Guitar/Synth/Percussion), Steve Wall (Guitar/Vocals/Synth/Misc. Instr.), Zac Colwell (Bass/Vocals), and Dave Heilman (Drums). In comparison to their 2014 EP, there are slight but important difference that Elephant Fire bring to the table in Natural Heart, and that's something to be excited about.

While they maintain their groovy, fun flare for psychedelic, indie instrumental sound, the band upgrades in technicality and emotional moments. Natural Heart is grown up Elephant Fire that is to be expected from a later release, and we're diggin' it. Normally we'd pull apart each track, but Natural Heart is pretty streamlined. Each track feels familiar and solid, nothing really stuck out to me which makes this album a nice background listen.

I do wonder what Elephant Fire's goal is. While the background information is interesting and helps make the listen more meaningful, I wanted more emotion in Natural Heart. I feel like a nearly 4 year difference between releases could've meant a growth - and while it's clear the technical aspect of this album feels better, more well done and fuller, it isn't satisfying the part of me that wants to connect to it. 

At it's base, Natural Heart is a good vibe. It's easy to listen to, has good intentions and is well versed instrumentally. I like Elephant Fire and what they're doing - and if making feel good music is where they're at, then I'm right there with them listening to this album while I sweat out whiskey at the gym. Definitely check out this album, and take a peek at their social media to never miss an update!

Elephant Fire: 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

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

Canyon Ride - Wasting Time With Ghosts Review

Canyon Ride have taken quite the journey to get to their debut EP release, and we’re so excited to be able to celebrate the end of that adventure with them! With hints of Americana, rock and country music to inspire them, you’re sure to find a track you’re into while listening to debut EP, Wasting Time With Ghosts!

The 5-track EP is the culmination of months of hard work perfecting the lineup and sound that Canyon Ride wanted to emulate. Canyon Ride consists of Kelly Derrig (vocals), Cam Clark (guitar/harmonica/banjo), Ryan Kosinski (bass), and Chris DeSaye (drums/supporting vox), and the lady led band is leaving it’s mark with their unique vintage rock and roll sound combined with the slow, sweet voice from Derrig.

Check out the tracklist below!

Wasting Time With Ghosts Tracklist: 
1. High Tide
2. Satisfied
3. Holding Thy Own
4. Winter Drums
5. Tennessee

 

 

 

 

This EP was more reminiscent of country than any of the other genres that they had suggested, with hints of folk and Americana in the instrumentals, Derrig’s voice is most definitely inspired by a more feminine country heart. The haunting aspects of this EP make it one that feels along with the listener. Tracks like “Satisfied” and “Tennessee” are impactful and important for the base in which Canyon Ride is trying to formulate their own standing and place in their scene.

There are a few things about this EP that could definitely benefit from Canyon Ride continuing to hone their sound and skills as a collective. In spots Derrig’s voice doesn’t feel supported by the instrumental background, both in that the guitar/bass seem like they want to be more rock influenced, and Derrig’s voice seemingly is automatically a more Americana/country style. I was impressed by this EP for it’s sheer momentum and need for being. It holds it’s own and represents a solid band that is new, but definitely a force to be reckoned with.

I look forward to Canyon Ride finding their footing and progressing above and beyond Wasting Time With Ghosts. As artists we all must continuously get better to achieve our greatest selves, and I have no doubt in Canyon Ride accomplishing this.

To keep up with the band, check out their social media below, and definitely check out Wasting Time With Ghosts so you don’t miss a single beat!

Canyon Ride: Website // Facebook // Instagram