alternative rock

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

Crooked Teeth - Pastel Review

Our California sweethearts, Crooked Teeth, have recently shared a brand new EP - a little diddy that really grows the sound we've been hearing in previous release, Out Here A Lone

Out Here, A Lone dropped on May 27th, 2016. It was produced/engineered/mixed by Matt Lang, percussion was done by Andy Rodesney, and finally mastered by Mike Kalijian. The 5-track EP is the perfect little teaser for what is to come from Crooked Teeth - and can you believe we said that almost a year ago now!

Pastel is a 3-track EP that tugs on all of your heart strings! And for this really cool accomplishment, we're even more impressed to find that Crooked Teeth is only a three piece comprised of Tyson Evans (Vox/Bass), Adam Miranda (Guitar) and Adam Galindo (Drums).

Check out the tracklist below!

Pastel Tracklist:
1. Out Of Place
2. Helpless
3. Crawl

 

 

 

 

 

Pastel works on the previous methods that were working for Crooked Teeth - the eclectic, gratifying hard hit of the instrumental, paced along with the half sung/half screamed lyrics that cusp pop punk, emo and alternative music. Opening track "Out Of Place" is one of the most impactful off the EP. Between Tyson's gut wrenching question, "Do you feel anything? Do you feel out of place?" it's easy to feel at home in the atmosphere that Pastel harbors.

"Helpless" is the most reminiscent of previous music from Crooked Teeth - an anthemic track that begs to be sung along to. Begging to question a relationship, Pastel makes it easy for you to breathe. Finally, "Crawl" is a musically in par with the rest of the EP, but lyrically very different than the other two tracks. The softness is gone, and if you need a good hate track this one works out great.

We'll make it easy for you and put a stream of the EP down below!

A journey is had on Pastel. Carried by the smooth, almost dreamy voice of Evans and the hard hitting instrumentals of Miranda and Galindo. Crooked Teeth only continues to impress us on their musical journey. You should definitely check this one out, a bite sized slice of what the California natives have to offer. 

To keep up with Crooked Teeth, check out their social media below!

Crooked Teeth: Facebook // Bandcamp

Inner Temple - Captivity Review

Photography: Richard Sanders

Photography: Richard Sanders

Nobody hits harder than Inner Temple - at least in our eyes.

The Pennsylvania natives are a mixture of hard rock, emo-rock, and Nirvana-esque riffage. This punchy, fast-moving, and exciting music was collected onto a recent EP. Captivity was released in October of 2016, and has been breaking our heart ever since. I mean check out this quote from Sean Gonzalez at New Noise Magazine if you don't believe us, “A distinctive punch that blends emotionally charged lyrics with thick walls of melody to create a huge sound that is sure to make you remember their name.”

Captivity is a mere 5-tracks long, with the longest track "Captivity" coming in just over 4 minutes. This EP is fast, loud, and so reminiscent of 90's alt-rock I can't even handle it. The EP was written by Inner Temple, recorded/mixed by Keeyan Zimmerman, produced by Chris Castillo, and mastered by Mat Kerekes.

To keep up with us during this review, check out the tracklist for Captivity below!

Captivity Tracklist:
1. Always Something
2. Show Me
3. Your Favorite Season
4. Broken Teeth
5. Captivity

 

 

 

 

Opening track, "Always Something," is definitely my favorite off of this EP. It powers through for listeners as a breakaway track - simultaneously capturing your attention and pulling you into what Captivity has to offer. This track also caught my attention because Inner Temple hit fuckin' hard. I'm talkin' hard, like this is the grungiest alt rock I've ever experienced (second to Nirvana).

Captivity flows effortlessly through the next four tracks, all of which follow suit in "Always Something's" footsteps. The EP is an exciting step forward, and mostly my only commentary was that I wish it had more depth and range. The four tracks that follow "Always Something" flow well with the EP, but they feel drastically less hard hitting. Maybe more nuanced than I expected?

Instrumentally, the duality of the threesome is beyond epic. There is such a depth to their instrumental presence, one that other bands would have trouble replicating. Dustin's voice is a gritty, sandpaper like addition to the heavy-hitting, punchy instrumentals. A combination to die for. Lyrically, the language of these tracks suit them - adding the extra gravitation pull to put this EP into your orbit.

Overall, Captivity is exciting because it's different.

How often do are you listening to this type of music, honestly? As someone who reviews copious amounts of music all the time, getting something like this in your inbox is special. Inner Temple is onto something, and word on the street is they're gearing up for new music, a second EP. Inner Temple enters into the ranks of The Hook's all time faves, and definitely are making headway in a genre that hasn't seen much since the 90's - thank god it's on the up & up.

For more on Inner Temple and this rad fuckin' sound they've got going on, check out their social media below so you don't miss a thing!

Inner Temple: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Serious Matters - Can You See The Sky From Here Review

Serious Matters, an alt-rock band from Union Beach, New Jersey, released their debut EP, Can You See The Sky From Here, on December 18th of 2016. The artwork seems to portray an attractive and colorful impressionistic skyscape featuring the album title in an easy-to-read cursive followed by the band logo.

I like it.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along with our review of Can You See The Sky From Here.

Can You See The Sky From Here Tracklist:
1. Weary
2. Nature Holds The Crown
3. Eyes Wide Shut
4. Summer Tides
5. Apparition
6. Vacant


 

 

 

Track one, "Weary," is introduced by a heavy solo guitar that is joined by the rest of the band, led in by a tasty rolling drum fill. Immediately I notice two things: first, the dry drum and guitar recordings reveal that this is not going to be a heavily produced album. No lush reverbs and delays, just pure raw rock tones and clean drums. Second, the tightness of this band is incredibly apparent. As a producer myself, I know how hard it can be to hide excessively tuned vocals and time edited drums without the help of reverbs and delays and other production tools. This, in addition to the incredibly natural feel of the entire record, leads me to believe that these gentlemen are as good of musicians as the record portrays (excellent).

The recording quality is crisp and clean. The guitar tones are just over-driven enough to be considered heavy, but still clean enough not to muddy up the mix or produce unwanted brown notes. The vocals are some of the most legible and powerful that I have heard in this genre. They feature the strength of early 2000’s pop-punk/emo with the pinpoint accuracy of modern pop vocal recordings.
    
Tracks two and three follow much in the vein of track one and are more or less what you would expect as follow up tracks (I mean that in a positive way). The songs are catchy, the riffs are strong and the lyrics feel incredibly meaningful. However, track four caught me off guard right from the get go. It begins with a guitar, featuring a pinging dotted-eighth delay (as made famous by U2) and an upbeat-ish chord progression that delightfully surprised me with the contrast that it created to the more angsty trio of songs that came before it.
    
Track five, "Apparition," once again came as a surprise in how vastly it contrasted its predecessors on the album. It features slow-heavy riff-age (which I love), an almost bluesy guitar solo and screamed vocals at the very end. The closing track, "Vacant," is certainly the heaviest track on the EP, as well the most dynamic. It swells in and out of soft, whisper-like vocals with palm muted guitars to fully engaged over-driven chords and crash cymbals. Can You See The Sky From Here is a clear indication that Serious Matters can not be pigeon-holed into any niche in the music scene. I would love to have a discussion with these guys about their influences because there is a ton of diversity in their styles of riffing and chord vocals.
    
 Overall, I loved the album. The writing is great, the fidelity of the recordings is high, yet raw. The vocal and guitar doubles are tasteful and the riffs are the memorable type that make you want to bob your head up and down. The lyrical content is a pleasing balance between poetic and conversational.

They said of their own lyrics: “Can You See The Sky From Here is a collection of songs revolving around sleep paralysis, the comfort of sleep, lucid dreaming, the unknown and acceptance. Many of the lyrics in each song have a duality in meaning. They can be taken literally, but also as a metaphor for bigger things like the anxiety of not know what comes after this life and the social ideals that put physical weight on your chest making it hard to breathe. These aren’t just stories, but come from real life experiences that everyone goes through on a daily basis. “

The messages are as clear and understandable in the record as in their recollection of the lyrics, which takes a good amount of skill as a writer to accomplish! I highly recommend giving this EP a listen.

Check out Serious Matters on social media down below for more!

Serious Matters: Facebook // Soundcloud

Doggo - Hotel Carlyle Review

Straight out of Philadelphia, Doggo has been working their way into the scene - up and coming, and a refreshing change of pace in a saturated DIY scene. Their most recent release, Hotel Carlyle, is the culmination of 8 months of hard work - a 9-track debut full length. 

With Mike Pinto (Guitar & Vocals), Brian Weglicki (bass), and Miles Ziskind (Drums), you've got a collaborative effort that stacks together hard hitting, fundamentally 'rock' instrumentals, a more emo-punk lyricism, and then this kind of eclectic narration via laced in voice overs, vocal layers and stereo effects!

Released on March 7th, Doggo's album Hotel Carlyle was tracked, mixed, and produced by Lev Ziskind at Quartz Club Recordings, and mastered by Dan Anderson. Check out the tracklist for Hotel Carlyle below to keep up to speed as we move on!

Hotel Carlyle Tracklist:
1. Carl
2. Scully
3. Jesus Iverson
4. Rum Beans
5. Lobotomy
6. Yacht Bois (2016)
7. Monday Nite Raw(r) xD lol
8. Thin Lizzards
9. Talker

 

 

Hotel Carlyle caught my attention in two ways: the track titles are fun and original™, and none of the tracks are over 3 minutes. That's a lot of expectation before even listening to a song, and rest assured Doggo doesn't disappoint.

Opening track "Carl" thrusts the listener into Doggo's frame of mind - a quick drop into a heavy instrumental kick back, and vocals reminiscent of current DIY punk aesthetic, but definitely a little bit emo. The following tracks are similar in range and style, of course you've got "Scully" for all of you X-File nerds - and you're going to be hearing that layering of sound effects to accompany and enhance the tracks. I'm really into "Scully" what can I say.

"Jesus Iverson" is a quick little interlude, followed by "Rum Beans" and "Lobotomy." And then of course the rest of the album fills out your listening, and all-in-all I was impressed by my experience. Hotel Carlyle is a really solid EP, one that flows well together lyrically and musically. I really enjoyed tracks like "Talker" and "Yacht Bois (2016)."

Check out "Yacht Bois (2016)" below!


A slight confession and criticism of the album I'd like to make is just more diversity - which is probably what everyone says, but a lot of the tracks flowed so well together because they sounded like one another. Which, of course, isn't a huge deal - it just means in the future, I'm curious as to what Doggo has to offer for fans? They have a great sound, one that is precise and tight in presentation, but what can they offer to listeners in the future that will draw them back in?

If you're interested in some really solid emo-punk, alt-rock, Doggo is probably a really good fit for you. Born in the DIY scene of Philly, they sport all of the things you love about the scene - and it's not just sad boys (not that we don't like that) screaming in your face. The Hook approves Hotel Carlyle from Doggo, and we're excited what the future has to offer!

For more on Doggo, check out their social media links below!

Doggo: Facebook // Twitter // Bandcamp
 

Little Beast - The Downfall Review

Before this album was introduced to me, I had never even heard of Little Beast. I’d heard of some of their influences – Hilary Duff (which had me intrigued right from the start), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Death Cab for Cutie, and Incubus. As you can tell from the list, Little Beast is one of a kind, with their own carefully cultivated style drawn from several different genres and artists. They describe themselves as “an emotional roller-coaster of cynical and sarcastic lyrics, laid on top of styles ranging from folk to sludge to electronic.” They deliver all of those things and more in their album, The Downfall

From Quakertown, Pennsylvania, Little Beast is a homegrown band composed of Logan Freund on lead vocals and bass guitar, Adam Kelly and Eric Lesinski on guitar and backing vocals, and Tom Brucker on drums. The Downfall was entirely recorded, mixed, and produced by Logan Freund. The album includes guest vocals by Laura Fetter on the tracks “The Downfall – Part II – Remembrance” and “The Rise.” Guitarist Adam Kelly wrote and performed his own solos for the songs “Psychos” and “The Downfall – Part I – Innocence.” Drummer Tom Brucker also plays in the band Andross, who will be performing alongside Inner Temple at The Hook’s music showcase in April (don’t miss it!). Little Beast will also be performing alongside Inner Temple in June. 

Check out their tracklist below!

The Downfall Tracklist:

  1. When I Go to Sleep
  2. In Command
  3. Carnival Days
  4. Blamer
  5. Harpy
  6. Psycho
  7. Diver
  8. When I Wake Up
  9. The Downfall – Part I – Innocence 
  10. The Downfall – Part II – Remembrance 
  11. The Downfall – Part III – Acceptance 
  12. The Rise

From the moment I started listening to this album, I was instantly drawn in.

It starts off with “When I Go to Sleep,” a soft one-minute intro with a haunting melody and scratchy, whispered vocals. From there, the rest of the songs on the album are a gripping combination of heavy guitar riffs and vocals that go from soft-spoken to screaming in a heartbeat. Personally, when I listen to music, I pay more attention to the instrumentals rather than the lyrics, because I believe the instruments make the melody. There’s something about a really good guitar track that just makes me feel things, and I like to feel things when I listen to music. The instrumentals on The Downfall, particularly the guitars, were a mix of alternative, heavy rock, progressive rock, and acoustic, and it all came together to make one captivating album.

The Downfall is one of those albums that will take you away when you listen to it, with each song bringing you to a different place. It’s hard to say what my favorite song was, but I’m going to have to go with “Diver,” the dreamy eight-minute long track that transitions from a slow, underwater-like trance to an impassioned lament with beautiful guitar harmonies. For me, the song calls to mind a vision of choppy waters, of a stormy sea, and of swimming in a calm, gentle ocean, diving underneath the waves and letting yourself be taken by the current. As someone who loves the water and was most definitely a mermaid in a past life, this song was bound to be my favorite. The melody in “Diver” was what really got me, and the bass guitar drove it home. 

All of the songs on the album seamlessly transition from one to the other with a smooth change, and the end result is an otherworldly, escapist collection of songs. It ends with “The Rise,” a romantic, twinkling acoustic song that’s entirely different from the rest of the heavy-guitar tracks, but it somehow works to bring the album to a close. I’ll definitely be keeping this one bookmarked, and I’m probably going to have “Diver” on repeat in the next few days.

Give the album a listen on Little Beast’s on bandcamp. Follow the band on social media, and you can download the album for free!

Little Beast: Facebook // Twitter // Bandcamp

George Morris - George Morris Review

George Morris and his Gypsy Chorus have come together to craft a masterful blend of indie pop and glam rock in the band’s third record which simply entitled George Morris due out February 10th. The self-titled LP is filled to the brim with catchy synth hooks, groovy bass lines, and unique melodies all of which encapsulate its melancholy lyrics and subject matter in a veil of optimism. George Morris has stricken gold by finding the perfect balance between moody indie music and familiar yet refined pop sensibilities, and this is in large part due to his extremely distinct voice. While the music itself is interesting and well produced enough to stand on its own, the entire album seems to effortlessly come together around Morris’ vocals in the best way possible. This gives the entire record a feel of authenticity that makes it sound unlike anything I’ve ever heard.

For those of you who may not be familiar with George Morris, he is the former off-the-wall lead singer of The Satin Peaches who rose to decent fame back in 2010 after their notable Lollapolooza performance. After the band dissolved due to creative differences (a term which can actually be applied to this breakup), Morris took all of his songwriting talent and experience and put them to good use in his solo project. 

Self-Titled Tracklist:

  1. 00 Years
  2. Full of Stars
  3. One & Only
  4. Untitled
  5. Round World
  6. No Feelings Left
  7. All My Money
  8. Still Waiting

 


Two records and nearly five years later we have been graced with his self-titled LP, and it showcases Morris at quite possibly his best songwriting game of all time. With the lead single “100 Years” receiving critical and fan praise while drawing comparisons to the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, and St. Vincent (just to name a few) I can say with confidence that the rest of the album lives up to or even surpasses the bar that this single has set. 

The record opens up with “100 Years” and listeners are instantly greeted with solid backbeats and rhythms underneath a terse yet welcoming piano. Listeners are soon met with Morris’s wistful vocals which emotionally convey the first lines of the album, “All of my friends are dead. It could’ve been me instead”. Boasting a very Radiohead-esque vibe through its music and vocals, “100 Years” is a perfect track to open the album with as it perfectly sums up almost every aspect of Morris’s music into an infectious and succinct track that sets the tone for the rest of the record.

The second song and second single off the album “Full of Stars” takes Morris’s hauntingly enticing vocals and mixes them with his signature synth sounds and groovy yet driving bass riffs. A David Bowie inspired track if I have ever heard one, “Full of Stars” features some huge soundscapes that you can easily get lost in without having realized that an entire 5 minute song has just come and gone. 

Track number 3, and my personal favorite, “One & Only” is probably the most ‘pop’ sounding track off the record. Its synth hook, which is very retro and video game inspired, is light and infectious while the vocals, although incredibly catchy, add a certain edginess to the song which keep it from teetering over to the side of too cheesy. Complex percussion tracks, guitar solos, and dark romance all make an appearance on this track, and the more you dig, the more you’ll find.

I won’t go into detail about the rest of the tracks, but they are honestly all just as good, if not better than the three I have mentioned. No detail has been overlooked, and each note on every track has been played to perfection. The production value on this album is absolutely incredible as well. No matter how many times I may have listened to a song, I found myself grabbing onto new and interesting things that I had never noticed before. There truly is a fine art to mixing and producing and I feel as if no expense was spared to make this album sound just as good as the quality of the songs themselves.

This album is good, plain and simple. It brings together ideas from a wide range of rock and combines them into something that isn’t groundbreaking, but rather familiar and welcoming in the most interesting kind of ways. The only complaint that I could think of is that the tracks may have been a tad too long for their own good, but that is me nitpicking. This self-titled LP features some of the most phenomenal song writing, instrumentation and production on an indie record that I can remember hearing in a good long time, and you should definitely listen. 

For more on George Morris or the self-titled album, check out the links provided below!

George Morris: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

 

Same - Weird As Hell Review

Photo: Heredwelling

Photo: Heredwelling

Pittsburgh, PA offers up a band you should be on the lookout for - especially if you've been missing the good old days of indie/alt-rock (like from the '90's).

That's right, I said it, Same are just like that band you probably miss from the '90's and guess what, after listening to them, I don't miss it so much anymore. Out with the old, in with the new. Same gives listeners Weird As Hell - an EP that plays on all of the reasons why I got into indie/alt-rock in the goddamn first place.

The 4-track EP is the result of the hard work of band members Jesse Caggiano (vocals, bass), Jamie Gruzinski (drums), Tom Higgins (guitar), & Jake Stern (guitar, vocals). The four piece comes together to create that melodramatic, monotone sound that Weird As Hell is rich in. Which isn't a bad thing - in fact, Same is using techniques on this EP that I haven't heard in a good while, which makes the EP not only refreshing, but full of really great techniques that the collision of indie and alternative music make happen!

Check out the track list below!

Weird As Hell Tracklist:
1. Camp Vacation
2. Weird as Hell
3. Blurry Legs
4. Badventure

 

 

 

 


Opening track "Camp Vacation" is another one of those tracks where I am extremely impressed by a band's ability to choose the perfect entrance to their EP. Between Caggliano & Stern's voice, which embodies that monotone, whiney kind of vocalist who drags out their vowels - and the slow, consistency of the drums, guitar and bass thanks to Higgins & Gruzinski, "Camp Vacation" is a melodic, slowcore blast from the past - which opens up the EP for the rest of the unique experience to follow.

My personal favorite off of this micro EP is last track "Badventure," and for reasons that are selfish, if i'm quite honest. The track is smooth, slow moving and makes me feel so good - also there is this kickass instrumental section that takes up a good portion of the song and it makes me sleepy and happy because this music is just so damn comforting.

Listen to it for yourself!

In summation, Same is a band I'm holding onto for the future (and maybe I've already shown some friends), but you should definitely check out Weird as Hell and Same, we've got their social media below for you!

Same: Facebook // Bandcamp