album review

Dysfunktone - Collection Perspective Album Review

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Good vibes & good dudes, Dysfunktone is here to bring all they’ve got.

Long Island born and bred, the four piece band has set their hearts on creating music that inspires people to dance, listen, and be in the moment. Thanks to the efforts of current members Rob Meza (Guitar & Vocals), Brandon Hanna (Guitar & Vocals), David Wolfsohn (Bass & Vocals), and Dakota Henry (Drums), Dysfunktone is looking forward to what’s in store for their musical future.

From humble beginnings in 2015, Dysfunktone has worked hard to not stick to any one sound, while also creating a feeling for listeners with music all their own. Jazz, reggae, rock, funk, metal: all genres that could describe any sound from the foursome at any given time. Collective Perspective is the culmination of that work, their first release since 2017.

Check out the 9-track LP down below to get a sense of what we’re talking about!

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Collective Perspective Tracklist:
1. Afterimage
2. Luminescence
3. Dementia
4. Reflection Collection
5. Toasty
6. Clouded
7. Mirror
8. Hourglass
9. Feelin' Time

The 9-track LP is a catch all for Dysfunktone’s self proclaimed genre blending good vibes. The tracks mostly remind me of Acid Rock and Funky Jazz having a baby - with the shortest song being around 3 minutes, and the longest being over 11 minutes. Generally, the album is good. It floats seamlessly between each track, it doesn’t ever take itself too seriously, and it feels welcoming even to novice listeners of Dysfunktone.

I can appreciate a genre blending jam band as much as the next person, but part of me wants to ask the question: why and also who cares? The album can leave a little bit to ask in the sense of togetherness, and what makes this album different than their 2017 release? I wonder what aspects of genre blending can be applied to make a concise, cohesive album without giving up the ideals that the band already carries. The album feels too all over, and can make any listener feel a little alienated upon first or second hear-thru.

Moving forward, I would look forward to an album that sees itself in a better way. One that takes the idea of genre blending, and pushes it into the song making, rather than just putting a multitude of different songs together and calling it as such. I like the vibe, I like the tone - the band feels good to listen to, but constructing an album is just as important as the songs that are in it, and taking the time to thoughtfully craft is what I’d be interested in.

As far as the band is concerned, Dysfunktone’s goals are simple: keep playing shows, spreading good vibes, and making good music. DIY to their core, and ready to spread the love, Dysfunktone is headed towards a bright future. If you like something to bob your head along to, Dysfunktone’s got you covered - but, ultimately, if you like good music and good people, well then you’ve found your people, regardless.

Check out Dysfunktone’s social media to keep up with everything they’ve got going on, including (but not limited to) shows, new releases, and good tunes!

Dysfunktone: Facebook

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

Haunted Homes - Seance At The Shore Review

Some of The Hook's favorites are making their way back around with their newest releases and we couldn't be more stoked on it! Today we're talking about Haunted Homes, the spooky rock band that integrates entities of cosmic, country and spook all into one beautiful little EP. 

Seance At The Shore is Haunted Homes most recent EP and comes after their February release of "CoastGhost2Coast" and "Spooksville, USA." The 4-track EP follows suit, and addition to the sound that Haunted Homes is working with and perfecting. With this genre blending and nearly conceptual quintet, there's sure to be a song to jam out to on Seance At The Shore.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along.

Seance At The Shore Tracklist:
1. The Rattlesnake King
2. Vacation On The Dead Sea
3. Mischief Night
4. An Evening Of Magic

 

 

 

 

 

What I really dug about this album was the added surf rock elements that Haunted Homes incorporated to flesh out their already solid sound. This EP opens with "The Rattlesnake King" which is most reminiscent of the February 2-track EP. The dreamy, far away vocals fall against the mixed instrumental that fluctuates between spooky and desert. 

There wasn't much I didn't enjoy about this, it seems like a productive growth for Haunted Homes in carving out their own unique sound for listeners to latch onto. We're ready to follow them to the end! Check out a stream of our favorite track thanks to Bandcamp down below!

You can catch Haunted Homes in Philly on August 23rd at Ortliebs with The Whips/Petunia. In the meantime, check out this EP, and check out what Haunted Homes is up to via their social media. We really dug this one, so don't miss it!

Haunted Homes: Facebook // Instagram

Trü - S/T EP Review

If you’re not familiar with New Jersey-based band Trü (yes, that’s with an umlaut) then you have until June 9th to, because this self-titled EP by the four piece group is guaranteed to top your summer jam playlist. Or at least make it on your road trip playlist a few dozen times.

S/T EP is a four track alt-rock EP that really gives off 90s vibes, but not the downtrodden, sullen grunge 90s. Instead, it has more of a lighter, almost Weezer-esque feel to it. If you didn’t grow up in the 90s (I certainly didn’t) then you can probably trace the sound back to high school. Hanging out with your friends in a basement, possibly having a few less than legal drinks, and collectively feeling sad with a youthful exuberance; that’s the feeling I get from listening to this album.  For me, it perfectly captures being young, without all the pomp and circumstance of a major label hook heavy synth banger.

Check out the tracklist below!

S/T EP Tracklist:
1. Take A Peek
2. Trouble
3. Kirsti
4. Hand In Hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything about this band’s sound reminds me of back in my garage band days, only way better written, performed and produced.  The guitars have a raw-ish quality to them, but not “I recorded this with a karaoke microphone connected to my friend’s tape recorder” raw. It’s obvious that their tone was well crafted and honed in. The production all around is actually very well done. The bass is nice and full, the drums come in clear. Everything is perfectly listenable. Even so, they’ve managed to capture the kind of energy and attitude that you’d hear in a crowded basement surrounded by friends.

One thing I will say about the album, however, is that there really isn’t anything particularly complex or technical going on. If you’re the kind of person who likes to hear complex time signatures or wants shred heavy solos, this isn’t for you. But, none of that is needed here. Sometimes all you need to create an amazing song is a few chords and some accentuated leads. My personal favorite song on the album, “Kirsti” has about maybe 5-6 chords total, but the lovestruck teenager inside me absolutely can’t get enough of it. It’s the kind of song you’d put on a mixtape that you’d give to a girl you’re crushing mad hard on, and maybe I might just do that.

Overall, this EP was fun to listen to.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also doesn’t get so juvenile that it’d be off-putting. If I had to pick the perfect way to describe, I’d say it’s the kind of EP that you can put on the car radio while driving with your friends on a summer day and sing along too.  It’s comfortably sad, and perfect for people who want to listen to sad music without of the dramatics found in other alternative bands.

S/T EP comes out June 9th on Destroy All Monsters Records. Additionally, you can keep up with the band on via Facebook and check out their previous demo release on their bandcamp.
 

Trü: Facebook // Instagram // Bandcamp

Youth In Revolt - The Broken Review

Youth in Revolt’s history has been anything but normal, but finally after 4 years of waiting, lineup changes, and an indefinite hiatus, their debut LP The Broken will be released on January 20th, 2017.

Although technically a follow up to their highly successful debut EP Love Is a Liars Game, I like to consider this record more of a new chapter for the band. While The Broken definitely has that signature Youth in Revolt pop-hardcore sound, something feels different on this record, and if you are a true fan of their earlier work, this album may rub you the wrong way.

Former lead vocalist True Arahill has left the band and has been replaced by Tanner Allen formerly of Brightwell, and while Allen does an admirable job of filling in the large shoes left behind by Arahill, replacing a lead singer always comes with its challenges and obstacles which are some of the most inherent and biggest flaws with The Broken.

The Broken Tracklist:
1)    The Noise
2)    Love is a Liar’s Game
3)    Not Giving Up
4)    The Broken
5)    Brisbane
6)    Don’t Wait for Me
7)    There for You
8)    I’m not Scared
9)    Alright
10)    Sleep
11)    Only One

 

The album opens up with “The Noise” which kicks things off with heavy riffs and beats that you would come to expect from a Youth in Revolt song, but the moment the verse and vocals come in, you can immediately hear the difference. Aside from Allen’s voice being slightly higher and a bit more pop sounding than Arahill’s, the tracks themselves are much more produced. These 2 things combined are more than enough to take away any authenticity an older Youth in Revolt fan may be waiting to hear on this record. With that being said, if you do go into this album with an open mind, you will be treated to some awesome breakdowns, screams, and catchy choruses that are guaranteed to have you head banging your night away. 

You can get a taste of their new lineup and sound from their latest music video for the title track of the record.

Musically, the band is incredibly tight on the record and The Broken serves up some very interesting ideas about combining genres that kept me truly entertained throughout most of the record. Despite this, some of my favorite moments on the record actually occur when the band commits to one style of music entirely because they execute it to near perfection. Whether that happens during breakdowns with Torres’ powerful screams, or during some verses or choruses with Allen’s more pop side, these are the moments when the record truly shines its best. Stand out tracks for me that truly put this on full display are “Sleep,” “Love is a Liar’s Game,” “Don’t Wait for Me,” and “The Noise.” The trouble occurs when hardcore meets pop, and it really makes it feel as if the band themselves are suffering from a bit of identity crisis. 

The Broken is a fun album that definitely rocks as well. You won’t find any deep, meaningful lyrics that will touch your soul, or any groundbreaking ideas that will leave you in awe, but what you will find are catchy songs that are executed with precision and intensity that will make you want to have a good time. Youth in Revolt have gone a bit of transformation during their career and this change of identity is definitely reflected in the music on the record. While combining 2 genres isn’t done as well as it has been done by Youth in Revolt in the past, the styles on their own more than warrant appreciation.

For these reasons, I am going to give The Broken a 7.8/10. 

Keep up to date with Youth in Revolt on their social media pages!

Youth In Revolt:  Facebook // Twitter // YouTube // Official Website // Instagram

 

Straight Hate - Scum Is A Straight Arrow Review

As a dedicated Grindcore consumer for the past ten or so years, I have become aware of a distinct difference in the sound of bands coming from Europe and those that emanate from the United States. Most American “Grindcore” bands aren’t actually Grind bands by traditional standards, but rather play either power-violence or just very fast hardcore punk.

This isn’t a knock against them in any way as I feel that their deviation from the trappings of said sub-genre allow them more room to experiment with different elements that often lead to new and original sounds. Yet, there are very many American “Grindcore” bands who don’t really center their music around blast-beats and velocity, and fail to incorporate any type of crust or d-beat influence on their music, which makes it hard to consider what they’re doing to be truly, Grind.

On the other side of the pond you have wave after wave of bands who cling to the Grindcore formula and worship at the altar of Grind traditionalism. Starting with Nasum and following through with bands like Rotten Sound, Afgrund, The Arson Project, Gadget and etc. The list is almost endless. I feel like these bands truly understand what it takes to make a Grindcore record in it’s truest form: emphasis on blast-beats, crust influence, velocity, brevity and of course, intensity. The only downfall of this sound is that so many of these bands play music that is interchangeable. I could easily confuse a Rotten Sound song for one by Nasum but would never confuse a Weekend Nachos song with one by a band like ACXDC.

Which brings us to Every Scum Is A Straight Arrow by Poland’s Straight Hate, an album that falls firmly in the mold of the European sound I just described. This album is pretty paint-by-numbers in terms of that sound, clean production, dynamic yet not groundbreaking songwriting and overall an absolute relentless emphasis on speed. This album does not stray too far from the proven formula, though it does have a few interesting moments here and there and overall it’s well executed enough that I feel confident to add it to my personal catalogue of albums I go to when I’m in the mood to listen to pure, straight up Grindcore, with no noise experimentations of breakdowns.

Check out the tracklist below!

Scum Is A Straight Arrow Tracklist:
1. High Priest's Hand Gesture 00:51
2. Don't Be So Cheap 01:00
3. Beautiful Slut 00:56
4. Self-Deception 01:10
5. Lovely Family 01:42
6. Fuck It This Is Grindcore 02:11
7. Looking For A Victim 01:37
8. The Defenders Of Morality 01:29
9. Disagreement 01:43
10. Corporation 01:29
11. Ludzki Szlam 01:34
12. Extinction 01:41
13. Impatient Diarrhea 01:09
14. Old Friends 01:06
15. The King Of Everything 01:52
16. Sofa Agent 01:50
17. Tear The Flesh 02:14

One thing I really enjoy here is how the guitars utilize the HM-2 “Buzzsaw” sound but do it in a way that isn’t necessarily overbearing and still allows levels of clarity in terms of the guitar playing. I myself am not a big fan of that guitar tone, one that I’ve heard countless bands do before and one that I feel easily obfuscates the guitar riffs in the name of distortion which in my opinion is just too “needly” and “pinched” to convey heaviness. But like I said, it is done tastefully here. I also really dig the vocals. The lower growls seem to have some type of chorus effect over
them that makes them sound very present much like those other European stalwarts Aborted.

Songwriting wise, there aren’t too many big shakes here. I do really enjoy the absolutely bezerk opening salvos to “Don’t Be So Cheap” and “Impatient Diarrhea.” The last third of the album is definitely the strongest portion beginning with the absolutely stellar “Extinction” which is centered around a dystopian groove that is equal parts early Maruta as it is early Slipknot. It’s easily my favorite song on the album.

Lyrically the album is, um…it’s uh…well there are words, I will say that much. I don’t know, the lyrics are written in very obviously broken English and at their best convey a sort of vulgar, Neanderthal Charles Bukowski and at their worst they sound like direct messages from a Facebook robot. But, honestly if you’re looking for introspective lyrics go listen to the new Frankie and the Ocean album or whatever.

So in summation:  American Grindcore are punks trying to play Metal and European Grindcore are Metalheads trying to play punk. As for Scum Is A Straight Arrow, this album is solid, not amazing, but solid and if nothing else, & there’s a song here about fucking your couch.

For more on Straight Hate, check out their social media plugs below!

Straight Hate: Facebook // Bandcamp

A Day Without Love - Solace Review

Solace is the new album from Philly indie artist A Day Without Love. Brian Walker is the driving force of this project, and has lately found himself quite busy. He’s toured the US, including playing the famous South x Southwest festival in Austin. On top of all that, Brian has managed to release a full length album. Talk about hard work. 

A Day Without Love’s debut full length is the culmination of a number of hardships for Walker, and he had this to say about Solace: "This record was the most honest record I wrote, the first record I wrote completely sober, the first record that shared about the most personal demons I have kept inside, and it is the beginning of me finding peace with myself and the problems I face in this world ranging from racism to mental depression. I hope in some way that my message helps you to by listening to this. I dedicate this record to my grandfather William Walker who raised me and passed away during the writing process of this record to Lung Cancer. I will forever remember you Grandpa."

Tracklist:

1.  Joseph
2. Green
3. Solace
4. Heart
5. Cruel
6. It Hurts
7. Constantly Ignored
8. I Hope it Ends One Day
9. Capacity
10. Too Fast
11. Never Judge
12. They Don't Want Us To Live
13. Persistence

For me, Solace is a mixed bag.
 

For the first few tracks, I struggled to make a connection to the music. So I took a step back, and took a moment to think about it. I read Brian’s words over again, and carried on with the next song (track 5, “Cruel”). I heard the line “No one cares how you feel, but what you deliver.” Wow. That one stuck with me. Couple that with the fact that the energy picks up a little during this song, and I was starting to get into it.

“Constantly Ignored” was a standout track for me. It’s a bare bones acoustic guitar tune, with Walker singing about being a black man who struggles to find acceptance from his own people. It’s easy to relate to, as many of us have had to face isolation from our peers for one reason or another. Not only that, but the song is followed up by “I Hope it Ends Someday”. That track is a recording of Walker’s grandmother, talking about her feelings on racism in America today (along with a little guitar). These two tracks combine to create a message that I hope can resonate with anyone who listens.

The rest of the album continued to strike a chord with me, lyrically. The only critiques I have of Solace are totally musical in nature. During my listening, I occasionally got the impression that instruments weren’t blending well together. Sometimes I think this was caused by the mix, but sometimes I believe instrumental tracks weren’t totally lining up rhythmically. Most of these moments I think could have been fixed by re-recording a few tracks, but I don’t think it’s a major issue. Once in a while I would notice a flat note in Walker’s vocal performance, but again, nothing too bad. 

One place I really think A Day Without Love could improve is in songwriting. When I’m listening to new music, I’m waiting for musical moments that jump out of my headphones and scream “Isn’t that cool?!” This can be accomplished in a number of ways, whether it be through an interesting melody, an unexpected chord progression, a surprising rhythm, or a hundred million other things. I was a little disappointed to find Solace lacking in these moments. 

Now, I’m not cruel, and I can’t let myself end a review on such a negative note. So I will say that Solace is certainly worth your time, Brian Walker has a lot to say, and he’s very good at saying it. As with anything, practice makes perfect, and I hope for his next release Walker is able to hone his songwriting skills just a little bit; he won’t have any problem standing out from the crowd after that.

Rating: 7/10

You can catch A Day Without Love live at Ortlieb's in Philly on October 15th for a full band record release show!

A Day Without Love: Facebook //  Soundcloud

Subjerk - Hometown Heroes Review

With a start date of April 2016, Subjerk is absolutely fresh-faced to the scene. However, that doesn't mean these guys aren't already kickin' ass. With their debut EP released a little over a month ago on August 5th, Subjerk has definitely made a splash.

Hometown Heroes was released back in August, but the 4-track EP is a really stellar start for 4-piece Subjerk. Subjerk is comprised of Grant Hill (Lead Vox, Keys, Guitar), Brandon Tomei (Guitar), Melchizedek Diggs (Bass), and Nandi Palmai (Drums). Thus the band was one, and quickly began working on creating music.

According to Grant, "We all linked up to form Subjerk. I wrote all the songs in a six month period before recording in May. All the members of the group brought their own distinct signature to the sound and style though which really improved all of the songs."

Check out the tracklist below!

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Hometown Heroes Tracklist:
1. Fresh All Day
2. Hometown Heroes
3. Take from Me
4. Settle

 

 

 

 

 

For the little EP that it is, Hometown Heroes is doing a lot of hard work for Subjerk - work that not only makes us impressed in how quickly they've been able to garner a good sound, but also in the solid art making, and all around good indie vibes this EP gives off!

Hometown Heroes opens up with "Fresh All Day," a soft, and stellar track to begin the EP with. This track preps listeners for expectations that the rest of the album follows suit with. This track is most similar to follow up, and title track "Hometown Heroes." While "Fresh All Day" is more representative of what it feels like Subjerk is attempting to achieve in this album; which we see as this really intense indie rock, slow jam. However, "Hometown Heroes" is a lot more gruff, and maybe the most off-putting track of the entire EP. Which is not to say it isn't a good track, because it is a really great track. It just felt most unlike the others in it's attention on a "harsher" vocal section and more upbeat instrumental backing. 

The EP rounds itself out with tracks "Take From Me," and "Settle." These two pieces really showcase the potential and current achieved goals for Subjerk in their debut EP. Hill's really smooth voice in comparison to the quiet guitar, the tempo slow and most definitely reminiscent of good indie; while the bass and drums keep time with these really awesome lyrics. These final tracks were definitely my preferred out of the EP, and that was because it really felt as though I had been placed consciously in really good music - is this what Subjerk is going for? If it is, good on them, because I'm into it.

Well, in the end, we really like these guys. We're genuinely excited to see what the future has in store for Subjerk - and what will Hometown Heroes mean to them in the long run? We hope they sustain this sound, define it, give us more "Take From Me," give us more "Settle." Until then, Subjerk plans on playing some shows up in Massachusetts, and doing a lot of writing with the hopes of a winter debut LP. 

Rating: 8/10

We're stoked they have plans, and we definitely recommend checking Subjerk out. Support your fellow artists, purchase this EP on iTunes, tell them your favorite lyric, eat a cookie with them. In the meantime, check out their social media links below!

Subjerk: Facebook