emo punk

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

Coffee Breath - I'll Lose Interest In This Review

Photos by John Hills

Photos by John Hills

Coffee Breath may as well just be my newest heartthrobs. With the perfect combo of DIY emo spirit and math rock, the quintet is sure to win you over. Located in the United Kingdom, Coffee Breath are a breath of fresh air (hah) in their respective scene, and their most recent EP, I'll Lose Interest In This is unbelievable. 

If you're a fan of bands like Title Fight and American Football, Coffee Breath is for you. They remind me a lot of local New Jersey band Halogens, which ideally would be a future show if either of them decide to hop across the pond. I'll Lose Interest In This was released on May 26th of this year, and was produced, mixed and mastered by Will Cook (Classically Handsome Brutes) and presents a refinement of the band's sound. It was released digitally by Further Sky records with a cassette release from Honeypot Records

Sam Tidmarsh (Vocals), Matt Reynolds (Guitar), Ryan McCorkell (Guitar), Max Hadfield (Bass) and Cem Ozer (Drums) met while studying at the University of Birmingham and formed Coffee Breath after bonding over a shared love of emo revival, math rock and coffee.

Check out the tracklist below before we dive in!

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I'll Lose Interest In This Tracklist:
1. Summertime
2. Playfight
3. Kites
4. Daydream

 

 

 

 

I'll Lose Interest In This is a dreamy, math-y album that begs you to hold it's hand in a way that you know it's going to break your heart. Opening track "Summertime" introduces listeners to that special Coffee Breath sound, with a guitar that buzzes against the hum of those half-sung, half screamed lyrics.

"Playfight" is going to slow it down a little bit for listeners, but at once of the longer tracks on the EP it can, at times, feel monotonous. However, if listened through completely, "Kites" will pick you back up to float along with Coffee Breath. This track is my personal favorite as it really exudes this fun indie pop aspect that feels good to listen and vibe to. A bop for sure, definitely check out "Kites." "Daydream" closes out the EP in a slow, smooth almost Jazz inspired piece. The closing track is a true testament to what the EP is really aiming for - and may have been the reason I fell in love with Coffee Breath. 

You should check these guys out, and I know I normally say that, but this EP is really concise, exciting and well done. The precision of the EP is a testament to the band's love for their music and also their hard work.

To keep up with Coffee Breath and all that they're going to be up to, check out their social media below!

Coffee Breath: Facebook // Website

Vague Advice - Time Travelers' Contintent Review

“Mind your son. In time we will be undone.”  

Every album/EP has one line that encapsulates the mood of the album. A line that bares emotional weight. For this EP, this one from the title track holds enough to tell you all you need to know about this release. Time Travelers' Continent is an EP by Vague Advice, a four piece band from Sharon Hill, and this EP is really something that tugs at the dark places in your mind. Every part of it makes you feel like you like you’re collapsing.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along! 

Time Travelers Continent Tracklist:
1. From the City Toward the Hills (or Things as They Appear)
2. 22 Years Later, Feeling Better
3. The Things Themselves
4. Time Travelers' Continent
5. filial piety/absent father
6. But the Future Refused to Change

 

 

 

Throughout the album, the vocalist is capable of going from somber, almost defeated, conversational singing, to a gentle pitch, to wounded melodic wailing that practically grabs you by the shirt, forces you against the wall, and tells you, “This is painful.” The bass and drums are both well in time and accentuate every single high energy, heavy emotion part well with thunderous vigor. “22 Years Later, Feeling Better” demonstrates this well as the instrumental drum and bass break practically move you with the rhythm.

However, the highlight of this release is the guitar.  

They tip-toe through the softer, more vocally focused parts and they explode during the heavier, energetic parts. They’re intricate and refined, but capable of an immense explosion of sound.  It’s my opinion that they convey the overall emotion of the album better than the vocals do, especially in the instrumental parts. They stand out, even when they don’t intend to and bare what I feel the soul of the writer and the band as a whole.  

In the opener, “From the City Toward the Hills (or Things as They Appear)”, they set the mood with their almost La Dispute-esque cleans, weave through the instrumental with their technicality, and finally rip through the word with distortion and haunting, heavy effected leads. They command, and the rest of the instruments follow behind. 

If there was one negative thing I could say about this release, it would be the song “filial piety/absent father.” I felt like the vocals were at their weakest at this point; not in tone but in overall delivery. They seemed to distract and attempt to break away from the instrumental, instead of working with it. The delivery at around the 4:10 mark felt like the path that was needed for this song. It was what I had been looking for: something that would give me chills. 

All and all, I was mesmerized by this release from the opening track.

It reminded me of the more vulnerable aspects of music: the parts that haunt, the parts that wail, the parts that make you want to reveal all of your thoughts to everyone around you in the hope that there will be a response. The part of music that helps you cope with loss, and decay, and moving on. I know that the band had a concept for this release, but after a few listens through I believe that it’s not something the listener can immediately pick up on without an additional explanation. That doesn’t mean that the listener won’t get anything from it, and what I got was reminder of love lost, loneliness, and a world engulfed in an evocative darkness. I’d like to think that at least that was the artist’s intention. 

Time Travelers' Continent was released on April 21, 2017 and is available on the band’s Bandcamp and for streaming on YouTube. Make sure to keep up with the band on Facebook for updates and show announcements!

Vague Advice: Facebook // Youtube

SIDENAIL - SIDENAIL EP REVIEW

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Philadelphia's underground scene is very DIY and very punk. It's been amazing seeing the different forms in which people interpret the words DIY and punk, and SIDENAIL is one of those bands that are taking the language and making it meaningful.

Comprised of members Garrett Bolin, and Dorianna Thornton, the SIDENAIL EP was recorded and mixed by Curtis Cooper. Dori and Garrett both did Vox, and the duo switch off on guitar and bass throughout the quirky EP. Put out in November of 2016, the EP is a quick, five-track collection of songs that are best described if I just give you the opportunity of listening to them.

Which you should, cause I really dig this EP.
Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

SIDENAIL EP Tracklist:
1. Marijuana Girlfriend
2. Communion
3. Falling In A Hole
4. Drug Dealer Blues
5. Shit Stains

 

 

 

 

One of the shortest EP's I've ever written about, the self-titled collection comes in at around 8 minutes long. "Marijuana Girlfriend," introduces the listener in an almost deceiving, uncanny way. With Dori's voice emulating that of a more retro rockabilly vibe, which quickly turns into a more punk/screaming type of vocal performance. The combo of punk/rockabilly rock is intriguing and powerful. I really loved this opening track because it set up listeners for the kinds of sounds they'd be experiencing in the latter half of the EP.

"Marijuana Girlfriend" also uses voice over effects to emphasize the ironic, inclusive nature of the track. I mean honestly this is really just the best part about this album - scratch that, the EP boasts a lot of impressive and fun elements. Of course, as any punk EP should be doing, the social commentary in Sidenail's EP is similar to projects the members also have ongoing like Witch H(c)unt. 

Another thing I admired was Dori's unabashed and free spirited way of expression in tracks like "Communion" and "Falling In A Hole."

Check out "Falling In A Hole" streaming below!

All-in-all, I've always been intrigued by the DIY punk scene - and SIDENAIL is fleshing out this genre with unlikely effects. Blending techniques and genres to create a sound that is addictive, paranoid, and in general fun to listen to. 

I definitely jumped around my room in frustration to this album many times throughout the weeks of finals - so you should too. For more on SIDENAIL, check out their social media below, and definitely don't skip out on this one.

SIDENAIL: Facebook // Bandcamp

Gin War - Peachy Keen Review

The first time I heard Gin War play was in Brooklyn, NYC around a year ago. A few things had interested me about the Long Beach Island natives, besides me being a fellow jersey-ian. Their sound is all at once unique and familiar, and for their most recent release, Peachy Keen, Gin War has broken down what I loved about them, and made it ten times better. 

Peachy Keen is Gin War's debut full length, and it follows two EPs (both of which you should check out) including Half Of A Good Plan (2014) and Piece Of Moon (2015). The 8-track album features members Kyle (Guitar), Brandon (Guitar|Vocals), Plank (Bass|Vocals), and Joey (Drums). Released on December 18th, Peachy Keen was recorded/mixed/produced by Bryan Little, and mastered by Jesse Cannon. The collection seems like it came together in a beautiful, effortless kind of way. One that was unexpected, but also comfortable. 

Check out the tracklist for Peachy Keen below!

Peachy Keen Tracklist:
1. Salt
2. Silent Movie
3. Hell Alright
4. Trip
5. Honest
6. Think So
7. Wink
8. Back So Soon

 

 


And that feeling of comfort I brought up? Maybe it's because three of the tracks off of Peachy Keen are remastered songs from previous EPs. Tracks like "Silent Movie," "Honest," and "Wink," have been remastered and stripped from their harder, more indie based forms, and transformed into a softness that highlights their written uniqueness. 

Is it wrong to say I prefer the stripped versions? Without the added beat of a drum, and a toned down guitar/bass, the emphasis lies more on the emotional output of Brandon's vocal performance, and lyricism. Of course, out of the 8-tracks on Peachy Keen, five of them are new! Which is great for listeners, and fans of Gin War, who were ready for new content.

Opening track "Salt" is the perfect example of what I was speaking on earlier: bringing in what worked from the old, and upgrading. It sets the album up for the tone - easy going, like the constant push of waves on the shore. It picks up around 1:40 in pace, highlighted by Brandon's voice (to die for). "Salt" also is the only track off of Peachy Keen to have an accompanying music video, which you should check out below!

Remarkably these tracks feel different, but doesn't that show a good range of Gin War? I think so. It's important that bands take their sound and constantly improve them, change them, warp them into something new - and Gin War did that simply by toning down, parring their work.

It's hard to pick a favorite from Peachy Keen, as most of the songs vibe in a similar direction. I think some stand out tracks is definitely repeat track "Honest." Another song I'm super into is "Hell Alright," because it's form takes on a different sound than other tracks - the lyrics are bordering abstraction, while the guitar tip toes around in the background.

Final track "Back So Soon," which introduces a piano, is probably the perfect closing track I've ever encountered. It takes in the entirety of the album, and breathes it back out for listeners, like a final 'hoorah.' Not to mention, the lyrics for "Back So Soon" are absolutely flawlessly executed. "My heart don't beat it shakes / when you are not around / my love it drips in waves / when you are gone," exudes an emotional tenderness, that in different EP formats, would have been drowned out by the instrumental technicalities.

And maybe that's what's most important about Peachy Keen. Gin War's typical sound, one with a more robust guitar, a heavier hitting drum, the rhythm of the bass, to follow; with all of that stripped out, you're left with the meaty, hearty core of Gin War. Peachy Keen feels like a tribute to that: to love and loss, to longing, to escape.

All of the reasons I fell in love with Gin War in the first place, now highlighted and placed on a pedestal in the 8-track album, consider me thankful.

I've included a Bandcamp stream of Peachy Keen above for you to check out!

Definitely check out Gin War, because they're making huge gains in the scene! They just recently joined The Saluto Agency as well! Listen to Peachy Keen, formulate your own opinions, send them flowers. And for more on Gin War, check out their social media below!

Gin War: Facebook // Bandcamp // Website

Catch Me If You Can - Okay... Review

It's fair to say that The Hook has been pretty heavily influenced by Pennsylvania and New Jersey dominated scenes. However, it's important to highlight how the rest of the tri-state area fits into this equation.

Enter in Catch Me If You Can.

Fronted by singer/songwriter, Ryan Hanratty, Catch Me If You Can is a project based out of Valley Stream, New York. However, Catch Me If You Can has garnered quite the following in the surrounding area, specifically New Jersey thanks to his talent, and the help of promoters such as Brittney On Fire of The Court Tavern, as well as other important figures in the local scene!

Catch Me If You Can caught our eye, though, with his most recent release Okay..., the debut, 11-track LP! You can check out the tracklist for this really interesting beginning for Catch Me If You Can below!

Okay... Tracklist:
1. Lockpicks & Keys
2. Say Anything
3. Bird's Eye View
4. Dead to You (Feat. Brittney On Fire)
5. Trusty Chords/Recovery (Hot Water Music/Frank Turner Cover)
6. Poison (All Winter)
7. T.L. 
8. Original Song
9. Verrazano
10. Poor & Broke (With You)
11. Long Island


Okay... features 11 tracks - and this being CMIYC's first full-length, I was impressed by the evenness of tone and structure that this LP presented! This album is literally just Ryan Hanratty's voice and acoustic guitar which makes for a solid collection that emphasizes the ideals of songwriting.

Hanratty's voice is a nice mixture between indie/alternative. While he presents in a way that feels current in the scene, it is also clear that CMIYC is passionate about making music as a whole. With influences that range from Radiohead, Green Day, Third Eye Blind, and Streetlight Manifesto - it's clear that CMIYC is using these influences in a beneficial way.

Overall, I had a hard time picking out a favorite song. Each track shared similar qualities: minimal guitar, Hanratty's voice empowering the momentum, lyrics to fit the bill. As a first album, this is a really great start. I would love to see what Catch Me If You Can has the ability do beyond this - what would happen if there were other instruments, if the album had the opportunity to be produced differently?

Of course, all of that comes in time and we're excited for what the future can hold for Catch Me If You Can! In the meantime, they will be playing two shows, one on 9/25 in Atlantic City and the other on 10/15 in Chester, NJ!

If you're diggin' what's vibing with Catch Me If You Can, be sure to check those shows out. Otherwise, stay tuned!

 

Rating: 8/10

For more on CMIYC and what they're up to, check out the social media below! Definitely someone you don't want to miss out on!

Catch Me If You Can: Facebook // Bandcamp // Twitter // Instagram