emo

Halogens - Happy Hour Review

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When it comes to one of our favorite bands, Halogens, we just can’t get enough. In fact, we haven’t gotten enough since we first heard their 2016 Self-Titled EP, so thank god for Happy Hour. Releasing on February 22nd, consider it a belated Valentines Day gift from the dynamic foursome.

Comprised of Zach Henry (Vocals/Guitar), Charlie Throckmorton (Guitar), Tim Wuestneck (Bass/Vocals), and George Saives (Drums), allowing the band to pack a heavy punch. The six track EP is the latest edition to the bands growing discography, and one to surely solidify Halogens in your hearts. It is heartfelt, knit-picking, and typically Halogens-esque in certain moments. We’re talking brash, coarse vocals, heavy hitting instrumentals balanced by a softness that entangles you emotionally, cathartically, and sometimes painfully.

Check out the track list below!

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Album Artwork: Chris Wills Flannery

Happy Hour Tracklist:
1. Pretty Enough
2. The Inside
3. Buckle
4. Sometimes
5. O’Gourman
6. The Backwoods



“Pretty Enough” opens up the EP’s melancholy - something I’d describe as an emotional longing that Halogens has always been good at conveying. There is always a sense of cathartic urgency, and every track is an inevitable purging. The band has been showcasing this track at recent shows, switching up their set list and giving listeners a taste of what to come. “Pretty Enough” also bonds the EP together as an opening track, which is one of the most impressive feats of this album.

In comparison to previous EP’s, I would say that Happy Hour feels stronger. It has a sense of itself, it flows well together, and while the tracks maintain a signature sound that the band has cultivated, the tracks don’t bleed - having the ability to exist on their own allows them the opportunity to utilize the tracks in different, more meaningful ways. Halogens has definitely grown up for this one, maintaining their instrumental complexity while also exploring this new softness that I’m really into.

My favorite track is “Buckle.” Anchoring the middle of an EP can be tricky, but “Buckle” does so in a way that alters the mood of the EP so listeners slide into “Sometimes.” I also really appreciated how the tempo slowed down for this track. By switching into this rhythm, the emphasis moves back onto the lyrics - a problem that Halogens has faced before, losing the lyrics in the instrumentals. “Sometimes” swoops in to dance away all of the sadness. I do wonder what else Halogens can do, though. I wonder, upon listening back on previous work, what growth Halogens can continue to make. What sounds can they cultivate to give the listener even more? How do they allow themselves the ability to step outside of a pre-designed box, one that works well and executes nicely. As the band adds more, I have a sense that I want more.

One thing I appreciate, especially about the lyricism in this album, is that Halogens never fail to make the listener feel included or secure. Halogens simultaneously validates and empowers listeners with commonality, the idea of being relatable is never lost on the band. They know just the way you feel, those oddities of experiencing life, sadness, loss, and most importantly - happiness. Happy Hour succeeds in keeping listeners excited & queued in on Halogens. It leaves little to want, but maybe Halogens next move will be different, or maybe they won’t. Either way, they remain as one of our favorite locals of all time - a band with good intentions, support and kindness that exceeds their music.

We’ve got links down below to access Halogens, so you should definitely be checking them out. Support them by purchasing merchandise and/or their music on Bandcamp, and thanks for choosing The Hook!

Halogens: Instagram // Twitter // Facebook

The Broken Few - We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves

As Fall encroaches (hopefully) upon us, we're settling in with a good book and a good band. This time it's Providence, Rhode Island quintet The Broken Few. The post-hardcore screamo band bring out the sad boy in us all, and for the month of October, that's what we're into.

(Shut up, Mom this isn't a phase)

Way back in April, The Broken Few released We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves, a 9-track album that pushes and pulls at the innards of anyone who stumbles upon it. The Broken Few includes members Eddie Cote (Vocals), Joe Landriana (Guitar/Vocals), Chris Cordon (Bass), Jordon Collard (Drums), and Chris Michaels (Guitar) to create a nice slice of what you instrumentally like about post hardcore with the screams to go along with it.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

The Broken Few Tracklist:
1. Fuck Yeah, Bob Saget
2. Axe Body Spray
3. Smile
4. Winter
5. Hey Jealousy
6. Rose
7. To Whom It May Concern
8. You Don't Know Me
9. Wander

 



Opening track "Fuck yeah Bob Saget" lures listeners into to something that isn't always going to be very funny, but that's ok. I really dig the vibe of this album, it's soft in nature (or probably just recording), and it sneaks up on listeners in a lot of ways. I prefer this album instrumentally, and when Cote is singing rather than screaming, the tracks feel a little more impactful. Some tracks have an inconsistent type of vocal depth to them, one where I wish they'd choose between the two styles. 

For the most part, tracks 1-5 were preferred over the latter half of the album. They felt the most consistent, heartfelt and well put together. I wanted more tracks like that where I could get lost in sharing those feelings with the band as they pull them out of the listener. Overall, I like The Broken Few. I want to listen to more music for them and I want them to do well. I wonder where their path will take them in the future, and what things they want to hold onto or let go - and We Leave Pieces Of Ourselves is an ode to a time in which they did just that.

To keep up with The Broken Few, check out their social media down below!

The Broken Few: Bandcamp // Facebook

Neck Deep - The Peace and The Panic Review

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You’d be hard pressed to claim to be a fan of alternative/pop-punk music and say you have at least never heard of Neck Deep, but for those of you who may be less familiar or have somehow managed to avoid hearing of this band, allow me to introduce you to them.

Neck Deep, the 5-piece pop-punk sensation hailing from Wrexham, Wales has basically taken the alternative scene by storm, turned it on its head, and made it their bitch. The Peace and The Panic, the band’s third album, sees Neck Deep further solidifying their rightful heir to the pop-punk throne with their first top-10 hit. The band delivers some of their best performances mixed with some of the heaviest themes of their short careers making The Peace and The Panic something that feels truly timeless in everything it does. 

Three albums in three years is no small feat, especially when they’ve been as solid as the ones Neck Deep has made. While The Peace and The Panic isn’t as revolutionary or as endearing as their sophomore attempt, Life’s Not Out To Get You, the band has stuck to their roots and made an admirable follow-up record that feels right at home in the Neck Deep discography. This release is definitely their most pop sounding album, but nothing about this record feels forced or as if the band is selling out, but rather it’s an obvious evolution for a group that has gained so much momentum in such a short amount of time. It still sounds as if the band is making the music they want to make, but there’s an obvious change in production techniques and experimentation resulting in a different sounding record that is sure to alienate some die-hard, old school Neck Deep fans.

Check out the tracklist below before we get real deep into this.

The Peace and the Panic Tracklist:
1. Motion Sickness
2. Happy Judgement Day
3. The Grand Delusion
4. Parachute
5. In Bloom
6. Don’t Wait (ft. Sam Carter)
7. Critical Mistake
8. Wish You Were Here
9. Heavy Lies
10. 19 Seventy Sumthin’
11. Where Do We Go When We Go
 

The band has gone through some emotional trauma since their last release. Losing friends and family members while constantly touring on the road and facing their inner demons. Neck Deep grew up a lot, and The Peace and the Panic reflects that. Maturity comes at a price, however. If what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, then what makes us money makes us less daring. From the out of place anthem of “The Grand Delusion” to the ‘let’s leave this town’ song in “Parachute”, all of the usual pop-punk tropes and themes are here. Everything on this album feels and sounds great, but the biggest issue with it, is that it feels and sounds great for a 2005 record.

Frontman Ben Barlow’s vocals sound like a mix between Ryan Key from Yellowcard, and Christopher Drew from Never Shout Never. Combine this with fairly simplistic and straightforward, albeit incredibly addictive and relatable songwriting, and you have a record that sounds very Simple Plan-esque. Keeping all of this in mind though, Neck Deep really isn’t trying to sound like anything else. In fact, the band absolutely owns the sound they are going for, and it’s one of true infectious nostalgia that only proves the timeless appeal of a pop-punk genre that seems to have disappeared from modern music.

The Peace and The Panic is a really good album. It’s not amazing, and doesn’t bring many surprises, but its songs are incredibly catchy and fun and harken back to what feels like a much simpler time. Standout tracks for me are “Happy Judgement Day”, “Don’t Wait” and “In Bloom” which has the potential to really become a solid hit for this band. This is the most accessible Neck Deep album by far, and it’s definitely going to get the group new fans, but may ultimately end up alienating some of their old ones. People looking for a new pop-punk record should look no further, and older fans who may not have loved this record should listen again to truly embrace all of its catchy goodness.  

Regardless of how fans may feel though, Neck Deep isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and The Peace and the Panic is everything we love about Neck Deep, even if it is a little bit different.

Keep up with them on their social media down below for more!

Neck Deep: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Official Site

Sleeping Patterns - A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone Review

Out of Massachusetts comes an exciting addition to post-rock, Sleeping Patterns. The band is celebrating the recent release of their debut LP, A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone.

Sleeping Patterns is a 5-piece post-rock/emo band from Worcester, Massachusetts and A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone follows two previous releases, an acoustic session and an EP. The album was released on 12” Vinyl/CD through Honest Face Records and Counter Intuitive Records. When asked about the album title and artwork, Guitarist/Vocalist Zach Boudrot said, “The album artwork is a representation of the loss of innocence that accompanies emotional and physical pain. Learning to grow, and using that as a catalyst for change in your life is extremely important to benefiting your well-being as a person.” 

The 11-track album is an incredibly emotional and technically exciting album for listeners and fans. It's a nice change of pace for the band as well, while this album exudes a confidence that the 2015 EP, Prejudice, seems to lack in both experience and willingness. 

Check out the tracklist below!

A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone Tracklist:
1. Prelude
2. Choose
3. Barely Enough
4. Raindance
5. Cigarette Song
6. A Little Blood
7. Embryonal Carcinoma
8. I Wrote This Song While Thinking Of You
9. Cut Ties
10. Breaking A Lung
11. Obsolete



I'm not one for Preludes, and Sleeping Patterns' does little for me in terms of this album. The prelude also feels a little bit darker than some of the corresponding tracks it follows. However, this entire album is really stinkin' good.

Each track is emotional, easy to follow, and leaves me with the desire to play it over and over again. The journey that A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone takes you on is one you want to memorize lyrics too. It's a grown up version of what Sleeping Patterns has been doing - more focused musically and instrumentally, hitting hard into love and loss. This album also has some of the best track titles I've ever seen, as I'm always into the "I Wrote This Song While Thinking Of You" or "Breaking A Lung."

Either way, check this out, an album you definitely want to be a part of and keep up with Sleeping Patterns on their social media, which you can check out below!

Sleeping Patterns: Facebook

Val Jester - Sorry Review

What beats the summer heat? Val Jester has been cooling us off for weeks now with their mix of indie, pop, and lofi sounds. We just can't get enough of it honestly.

On May 26th, Val Jester released their debut album, Sorry. A 12-track album that focuses primarily on smooth sounds and even smoother vocals. The mastermind behind the project (with plenty of help of course) is Max Schoenwetter. A New Jersey native, Max Schoenwetter played bass for his friend’s band, before deciding to try and write on his own. Started in September of 2017 after moving to Philadelphia, Val Jester was created from the catalog of songs he had curated over the previous three years. Recorded over a cup of tea, Sorry, is Val’s introduction to the world. Apologizing to those who will listen, Sorry, is Val’s way of clearing his conscious and making music that chills you out. 

Check out the tracklist below!

Sorry Tracklist:
1. America
2. Mediocre?
3. Home Alone, Alone
4. Is This Real? 
5. i was all over her -. 
6. an
7. Sanguineness
8. sorry
9. Chaos
10. Make It Work?
11. I Don't Wana
12. Goodbye

I have yet to have recorded an album so smooth, so mind-numbingly good in quite a long time. Consider Sorry the perfect mixture of indie sad boy and lofi distortion. Max's voice rasps as the perfect compliment to a thwang-ing guitar, a steady beat. While 12 tracks is a size-able amount, Sorry moves effortlessly in quick bursts of air. Steady, unnerving, easy to get lost into.

Opening track "America" is a testament to what the album is about. While not at all about America, the track is disturbingly self-aware with lyrics like "God Bless Me, / I am flawed, and / Prickly, and /Spiky." Overlaid on a distorted "God Bless America" the track is the open door to what the album Sorry is unapologetically about. Being flawed.

I just can't get enough of this album, honestly. From beginning to end it moves seamlessly, I have no favorite because I can't decide. I want there to be more. I want Max to give us more half-loved thoughts, all in the dark, just like secrets. This album feels good to listen to, which is hard to say about a lot of albums.

You definitely want to buy this one, listen to it. Listen to it again, show it to your best friend, keep it a secret and only play it in the car with people you don't care about. Whatever you need to do, you should do with this album in tow. Keep up with Val Jester, take our word for it.

Keep up with Val Jester via the social media links below, and thank us later.

Val Jester: Facebook // Bandcamp

Above The Mendoza - A Shoulder To Lean On, But Not A Crutch

Out of Center Valley, PA comes pop-punk babes Above The Mendoza with their most recent album, A Shoulder To Lean On, But Not A Crutch. Released in May, the 6-track EP is like traveling to your pop punk past in the best way possible.

Recorded at Cannon Found Soundation; Union City, NJ, the EP was engineered, produced, mixed, and mastered by Mike Oettinger and Jesse Cannon. Since their apartment inception somewhere on Temple's campus, Above The Mendoza has been pushing forward in a genre that begs to still be heard! After their debut EP release back in 2015 (whoah), ATM found a following after their east coast tour in support of the release!

Of course, with any new release, Above The Mendoza had to prove to listeners what it was that would give them a lasting quality. Enter in A Shoulder To Lean On, But Not A Crutch. ATM gives listeners exactly what they wanted - a maturation in lyrical content, instrumental progression, and overall a tighter, more concise, execution of music you want to love.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

A Shoulder To Lean On, But Not A Crutch Tracklist:
1. House Special 2
2. Over and Over
3. Consciously Comatose
4. Father Time
5. Cambridge
6. Back Room

 

 

 

People are quick to summarize pop-punk as songs about how much you hate your town and how that quirky manic pixie dream girl won't text back, but I often wonder how pop-punk continues to have a following if those are true? With bands like The Wonder Years and Seaway currently making music that fits into this genre, do we hate pop-punk because it's cool or because we're scared of relating?

Above The Mendoza's music is relatable. The lyrical content is familiar and safe, things you've felt and heard on the drive home from college. While we live in this surreal in between that is your twenties, I wonder what moves pop-punk will make, especially bands like Above The Mendoza who have taken the core roots and progressed them. Technically, the instrumental execution of this EP is reminiscent of a lot of trends that are popular in the local music scene. 

Opening track "House Special 2" is the quintessential opener for any good EP. With the quick fade in to a fast paced, pop-punk centralized lyricism and instrumental body that follows suit. I was really, really into "Consciously Comatose" and "Backroom" as stand out tracks for the EP.

Overall, ATM give listeners an emotional window to peak through. This album reminds me of summer, of being younger, of wanting to listen to music that I could sing along to in my car. Regardless of genre titles, this is just good music. Fun music. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this album, and I want to know what Above The Mendoza will continue bringing to the table.

Until then, check out their social media down below to keep up with them. We've got the album streaming up above, so check it out while you read or go back to Facebook. Either way, peep Above The Mendoza and their May release, A Shoulder To Lean On, But Not A Crutch.

Above The Mendoza: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Nothing Vital - The Lies You've Told Review

Nothing Vital, the 4-piece alternative rock band based out of Doylestown, PA released their debut EP, The Lies You’ve Told back in September of 2016, and here at The Hook we’re excited to finally give the album the proper review that it deserves. The Lies You’ve Told is a collection of incredibly eclectic songs that touches on nearly every different genre of modern rock in one way or another.

The peculiar thing about Nothing Vital is that they execute these often conflicting styles of rock with an impressive amount of style and precision. They overcome the need to conform to one genre and can effortlessly weave in and out of alternative, pop-punk, hard rock, and others to make a sound that is all their own.  This is on full display in each of the 5 tracks on The Lies You’ve Told.

Nothing Vital consists of lead vocalist and guitarist Sam Rocca, rhythm guitarist John Leahy, bassist Jake Mercer, and drummer David Giller. The band got together in early 2016 and is already making big waves in the local scene, and with good reason. Although The Lies You’ve Told is their debut EP, it features performances and songwriting that rival some acts that have been around for much, much longer.

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The Lies You’ve Told Tracklist:
1) Alleyways
2) Less
3) Elevator Music
4) Save Me Now
5) Give ‘em Hell

 

 




The EP kicks off with “Alleyway” which is arguably the most alternative sounding song on the record and my personal favorite. It sets the tone with light, but steady percussion, a guitar riff that is emo in all the right ways, and vocals that are intimate and vulnerable. It’s atmospheric, groovy, catchy and still manages to get fairly heavy toward the end.

“Less” is a classic hard rock song that is driven by a simple yet extremely effective signature guitar riff. While it is a fine song, nothing here is groundbreaking, and may be the least memorable song from the record. There is however an awesome vocal effect that happens in one of the later verses, but it’s applied a bit too harshly and is too short-lived.

The third track, “Elevator Music” is a track that I grew to love much more than I thought I would. It reminds me of a weird blend between Matchbox 20 and Pearl Jam and somehow works extremely well. The verses are tight, straightforward and very pop sounding with syncopated lyrics to keep things interesting, but are met with big and heavy choruses with soaring, emotional vocals that are reminiscent of a grunge tune. “Elevator Music” more than any other song on the record takes me on a journey. By the time the song is over, I actually wonder how I got from the start of the track to the end because it sounds so different, and I think that’s a true testament to the songwriting.

“Save Me Now” is the most well produced song on the record. Starting off with smooth piano, an ethereal violin, light guitar and drums, and delicate vocals, it is actually very reminiscent of a Muse song musically. This of course changes about halfway through the song and we’re greeted with an explosion of drums, overdriven guitars, and dastardly screaming vocals. Yet through all of this, the listener can still hear the violin, and it morphs the song from just another heavy rock track into something much more interesting that actually reminds me of Flobots in a way.

We’ve gone from emo, to pop, to alternative, to even some hip-hop, so of course the logical place to end this record would be with a pop-punk song. “Give Em Hell” doesn’t do anything special with the pop-punk genre, and in fact in teeters on the edge of even being a tad cliché, but in all honesty is works surprisingly well. The Ramones meet Blink-182 in this track which comes fully equipped with everything you might find in a pop-punk song. Quick verses with a hint of rebellion and distaste for society, catchy choruses you can learn in one listen, and of course a bridge that just begs to be drunkenly screamed at the top of your lungs with your buddies. It truly is a fun time.

Nothing Vital has crafted a truly interesting experience with The Lies You’ve Told. The listener is treated to so many different styles of music that are somehow blended masterfully together to make a delicious, cohesive stew. If you haven’t heard it already, The Lies You’ve Told is definitely worth at least one listen through because there’s at least 1 track on there that will appeal to your musical taste. We’re excited for Nothing Vital’s future here at The Hook and will be sure to keep you up to date with any news or releases from them and so much more.

Nothing Vital: Facebook // Twitter // Soundcloud // YouTube // Official Site

Hymn - Mouth EP Review

Mouth is the second EP from Kingston PA indie rockers Hymn. The band has a knack for evoking my own sense of nostalgia. It takes me back to my days of first listening to bands like Blink 182, My Chemical Romance, and a plethora of other pop punk/emo bands.

Hymn started as a personal project from guitarist and front man Tyler Chau. Chau released Hymn’s first EP I Had the Same Dream as You in September of 2015. In January of 2016 the band came together to include Josh Roberts on bass, George Monrroy on drums and vocals, and Andrew Mickowski on guitar. Mouth was released on June 17. They name bands such as Tigers Jaw, Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), and Saves the Day as some of their influences.

Mouth marks a slight departure from the sound of I Had the Same Dream as You. While the songwriting itself is similar, and the lyrical content is certainly in the same realm, Mouth is a lot heavier than the first EP. The songs are fun and simple, and had me unconsciously bobbing my head along to the rhythm.

Tracklist:
1. Hana
2. Paradigm Shift
3. Mouth
4. Sleeping Bag











I spoke briefly with the band & Tyler asking for their thoughts on the record, "The EP has a lot to do with communication, & how we choose to use (or not use) it. The artwork itself was a big inspiration for the lyrics, originally starting as an illustration that was done by a co-worker of mine. Looking back, I think there were a few sounds here & there we may have changed if we could. But overall, we're really proud of it, & I think it really set the tone for us as a band." 

The EP opens with “Hana”, a slow and somber introduction to the EP with some thought provoking lyrics. It’s a short track, clocking in at just 1:26. But the length is fitting, as the track serves almost as an intro to the second song on Mouth, “Paradigm Shift.” Towards the end of “Hana” things pick up a little bit, and everything flows very neatly into the next track.

“Paradigm Shift” is an archetypal song for the genre. A high energy piece that conjures images of densely packed crowds and mosh pits. The lyrics seem to pick up where “Hana” left off, making the first two tracks feel more like one whole piece than two separate songs.

The third and titular track starts off with a simple but effective chord progression, and a nice little guitar lead. Palm muted guitars underline the verse, in which I couldn’t help but think that Tyler Chau’s voice sounded a lot like Mark Hoppus of Blink 182. It’s another solid song that fits well within the EP.

The closing number, “Sleeping Bag” is a fitting ending to Mouth. I’m a big fan of the guitar parts in the verses in particular. Again, Hymn fits well within their genre here. A catchy refrain makes you want to sing and dance along. And of course it ends with the obligatory “Woah” melody. It would be wrong if it didn’t.

On the whole, Mouth isn’t pushing the limits, or reinventing the wheel. But that’s not a fault, it’s not trying to. It’s a fun EP, and it clocks in at only 9 minutes, so you really have no reason not to listen to it if you’re a fan of the genre. 

Rating: 7.5/10

Hymn: Facebook // Twitter // Bandcamp // Tumblr