album reviews

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

Ship and Sail - From Seeds Review

Photography: Abby Recker

Photography: Abby Recker

A little fun, and also a little sad is the tagline from Ship & Sail’s Bandcamp - and the Michigan natives are definitely that. The melancholy, blissful mixture of Americana, Folk and Indie melt Ship & Sail down for listeners, they want you gooey, they want your right on the verge of knowing, experiencing. They are the haunting of our minds - from loss, from laughter, from sheer emotion. They bring to the table something I haven’t heard in a while, something that (sometimes) only bedroom pop bands can get right - but, we’ll save that for later.

Beginning from a song-writing exercise, Colin Haggerty (Vocals & Guitar) began Ship & Sail’s first EP, Even From A Dying Tree, The Worry Bird Sings. It has now grown into something that even Haggerty did not expect at first. Mixed and mastered by Doug Gallo at AGL Sounds in New Jersey, From Seeds is, according to Haggerty, “the most important release I’ve ever had and has been a blast to play live.” Since the release Ship & Sail has shared the stage with the likes of John Nolan (Taking Back Sunday, Straylight Run) and Breathe Owl Breathe, while also performing as a four-piece, a soon to be six-piece, and will also be doing a three-piece acoustic-folk outfit. All the while continuing to play solo.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

From Seeds Tracklist:
1. Lynda
2. A Wish, A Lie
3. Fix
4. Windowsill
5. Bed to Stay
6. Hope
7. Call it Quits
8. Nails
9. Maggie
10. From Seeds



After the death of his Mother, Ship & Sail began comprising an album that moves slowly, irrigating every moment it encapsulates. From Seeds is the capsule in which they live - the album, an impressive full-length that breathes feeling and lyricism. Opening track, “Lynda” drops the listener immediately into the sound of a voice - familiar, but far away.

Haggerty’s sound is one that jostles against his instrumentals. The deep, gritty voice against a melodic, slow moving undertone creates an atmosphere that gives a sense of knowing. Ship & Sail want you to know what they’re thinking, because it’s things you’ve thought before, felt before, seen before. Love, longing, fear, anxiety - all topics that From Seeds touches upon, thoughtfully & fully aware. One track that really does this for myself, as a listener, is “Call It Quits.”

This album takes it’s time, and instinctively, it makes it feel hard to separate. I understand the necessity, the artistry, the wanting; however, 10-tracks that meditate around a similar sound that includes instrumentals, little variation in vocal performance, and lyricism (while beautiful poetic, and one of my favorite parts) it can feel lengthy and tired by completion. I wonder how I would feel about these tracks if, instead, they were layered throughout different compilations with tracks that bounced off of them, rather than swept them all together.

That being said, my favorite track is “A Wish, A Lie.” Arguably, the most upbeat track on the record, this track feels just right. The beat hits in the right spots with the lyrics, the twanging of the guitar makes it feel like a journey from beginning to end - and, that’s what it is. A journey, a moment of flurrying feelings. It felt sweet, sincere, and secure for a moment - as if the album could look upon it’s creator and say, “take a look, this is what we are!”

Again, the lyricism of this album is the strongest, hardest hitting aspect of From Seeds. The imagery, the methodology, the quickness of it all - like the severing of ties - hits hard. This album is for feeling, for being in the moment of feeling, and for appreciating how stinkin’ good a guitar sounds all by itself. Ship & Sail take their time to craft, to emote and be human. From Seeds will do the same, and for that I am thankful. It reminds me of rainy summer days where the ground is hot and steaming, and the sky is dark but, somehow, there is still pale yellow light all around you.

Moving forward, I am eager to see how Ship & Sail will sound with more members, with different tracks, ideas, emotions. This beginning is valid and important in solidifying a common ground between artist & listener, and now that we’re here - what’s next? I guess we’ll see! Until then, check out Ship & Sail’s social media links down below, and listen to From Seeds if you need a good album to feel things with!

Keep reading to find out more new & exciting stuff, and thanks for choosing The Hook!

Ship & Sail: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

**All biography information thanks to Brijana Bondy**

American Lions - Serf Rock Review

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

Photo: Kelsey Hunter Ayres

New Brunswick sweethearts, American Lions, have been pretty consistently shredding their scene for the past few years. With an output of a release a year, the band is an impressive contender in the tri-state area, and their latest release, Serf Rock, is no exception to that standard!

The 14-track giant of an LP is disturbingly impressive and punctual in all aspects. With each track at a little over two minutes, Serf Rock is an easy listening while it may seem daunting at first glance. The album was Produced/Mixed/Mastered by Sam Pura (TSSF/Basement/Hundredth) at The Panda Studios, and resonates fondly from the places it stems from - basements, New Brunswick, and DIY culture.

The album debuted on February 2nd at a house show in the band's show house, Mount Moon. The sold out show was legendary, according to our sources (uh, the internet), and we're bummed we missed it. Good thing we can check out this bad boy on Bandcamp, though, (as well as other streaming platforms) and so should you!

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Artwork: Tyler Way

Artwork: Tyler Way

Serf Rock Tracklist:
1. Rainy Day
2. Ruby Red
3. One Two Plus Five
4. Black Spot
5. Super Glued
6. Serf Rock
7. Easy
8. Can't Wait 
9. Angry Little Man
10. Oh No
11. No Wine
12. Sophia Bleeds
13. Millions N' More
14. So Glad You're Mine

This album is a solid addition to American Lions' current discography, and marks growth for the typically indie rock/punk rock fusion. Serf Rock doesn't ever take itself too seriously, and while previous American Lions releases reminded me of other NB greats like Semiotics or Asbury Park pals Halogens, Serf Rock took a hard swing outside of their norm - and it's working. 

The brash instrumental style, while poised, is also heavy hitting and emotional. The debut LP gave the band an opportunity to slow things down, to achieve a different sound than before. In this way, I'm excited about American Lions. While they remain the same with tracks like "Ruby Red," they also move forward in tracks like "One Two Plus Five." In a world where basements can sound the same in whichever city you're watching and listening in, it has become a bands task to find out a way around that.

For me this album seamlessly streamlined itself. Each track picks up where the last left off, making Serf Rock a super easy listen. I really enjoyed the essence of different genres that the group picks up in different instances, whether that be instrumentally or vocally. Hints of pop punk, indie pop, DIY emo and punk rock would all be genres I'd be willing to use for this banger of an album. Tracks really separate themselves from the rest of the album, and American Lions seemingly feel very thoughtful in their engineering of an album's tracklist. 

Overall, this shit is tight as fuck and you should check it out. This group of dudes have worked their butts off to get where they are, and if you're in DIY you know how much work that is. Serf Rock is a debut album worth your time, get emotionally attached to it, make your Mom listen to it, eat dinner while listening to it, whatever it is, just check it out.

You can thank us later.

As always, check out American Lions on social media, they're constantly hosting and playing shows, so if you can get to one you should consider that too. Thanks for reading, and support these good New Brunswick pals!

American Lions: Instagram // Facebook