local music

Curtis Cooper - Graceful Review

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We have been following Curtis Cooper since our 2016 inception as a music magazine. They are one of the biggest reasons we were successful in Philly, and we couldn’t thank them enough. When Curtis came to us with their latest album, we were beyond excited to get started.

Graceful is the third full length release - following Laughing In Line and Messy. With a whole year between Messy and Graceful, there is a lot to anticipate from the Philadelphia native and DIY legend. Graceful is an ode to Curtis Cooper - a turn around for the singer & songwriter that encapsulates years of learning, hurt, love, and loss into a succinct 13-track album.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Graceful Tracklist:
1. Breathe Out
2. Outta Here
3. Goodbye Gorgeous
4. Graceful
5. Best Dress
6. Tall
7. I Wish I Could Love You (ft. Ganou)
8. All Of The Time
9. Pretty
10. Latency
11. Can’t Decide
12. I Like You
13. I’m Glad

Instrumentally, Graceful is what I’ve always wanted from Curtis Cooper. It is poignant, heavy hitting, and beautiful. Indie-folk mixture of sound, Cooper uses every aspect of this album to lament, and lament hard. Curtis hasn’t lost any of themself in this album, instead highlighting on their already intellectual instrumental performance and heartfelt lyricism - while also upgrading their understanding of music’s full potential as a tool and art form to express oneself.

Something I’ve always admired about Curtis is their ability to write. Graceful does not lack any poetic emphasis, and while listening (if you can) reading the lyrics for this album will only make it that much sweeter, more tender, and hurtful (in a good way). Regardless, it takes a talented musician to understand the importance the whole thing takes - lyric, melody, instrument, and mood. This album encapsulates it - an impeccable, brooding, but matured take from Curtis Cooper.

Please check out this album, stream it, buy it, compliment Curtis personally about how stellar it is. You won’t regret it. To follow what’s going on for Curtis Cooper, check out their social media down below!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // Bandcamp

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

Fallow - Self Titled EP Review

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Bryan Patrick & Tess Eileen have partnered together in more ways than one recently, especially with their latest put-out, Fallow. The sweet little bedroom pop duo have created a space to get lost in the sweetness of Eileen's voice and lyricism. Patrick's gentle touch on the synthetic sound, drums, and guitar give way to a dreamlike sequence of a listen.

Four tracks to get lost in, check out the tracklist for the Self Titled release below.

Fallow Tracklist:
1. Don't Board
2. Burn Barrel
3. Say We're OK
4. Evergreen

Opening track "Don't Board" is a sweet track full of longing and wonder. It follows suit with "Burn Barrel" and "Say We're Ok," where Eileen explores the essence of tender love, of want and emotion. Patrick, of We Have Ghosts, adds that special touch to create for listeners a world that feels layered and soft to touch. Closing track "Evergreen" is especially delicate not only in lyricism but instrumental performance.

Overall, a fantastic output of sound for the duo, one that feels important & meaningful, and I'd be damn sure happy to hear more of. Check out the tracks above to hear what Fallow is all about, and in the meantime, stay tuned, maybe we'll hear more from them soon!

Holy Smoke! - Pipe Dream Review

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Out of Philadelphia, PA Holy Smoke! comes roaring in like a bat out of hell. The five piece is a gritty, smooth rolling stoner rock & roll group that's sure to awake the bad ass in all of us.

We're taking it back in time a little, and forgive us, we're just a tiny bit behind on the times - but August 7th, 2017, Holy Smoke! released their debut EP, Pipe Dream. The five track EP is an easy going, pretty standard debut for the band that showcases some of their core values: weed, rock & roll, and saving the world. Comprised of members David McNally (vocals), P. Michael Forte (bass), Aaron Morgan (drums), Brian Schmidt (guitar), and Justin Ulrich (guitar) you're sure to be slammed with lots of grunge-esque sounds.

Check out the tracklist below to keep up!

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Pipe Dream Tracklist:
1. Rinse & Repeat
2. Blue Dreams
3. Missing the Mark  
4. Golden Retriever
5. Asch Backwards

 

 

 

 

Pipe Dream is a pretty standard little EP. It isn't going to have any surprises as it relates to other genre based releases. As a debut EP, it showcases the band's sound in a meaningful way, one that allows for improvement but also feels solid in performance on all levels. None of the tracks particularly stood out to myself as I listened, as the EP works best as one solid play-through, I did wonder on some occasions what could make Holy Smoke! stand out better?

Instrumentally, the EP flip flops between a grittier grunge rock sound and stoner rock. Lyrically, this doesn't always match up as in some spots the record feels more rock & roll lyrically and emotionally. There are some really great moments in tracks that highlight that blues-y rock sound, a thick, strumming bass line and shredding guitar. 

The tracks hang around the 4-5 minute mark and really let you sink into the groove that Holy Smoke! want you to hang out in, and that was something I could really appreciate. Moving forward, I wonder how Holy Smoke! will use Pipe Dream as a jumping off point and place for reflection as a band. There are a lot of places they could go, and I know the city of Philadelphia would be ready for any of those places, so I'm excited to see which they decide on.

As always, thanks for reading, and check out Holy Smoke! on their social media to never miss an update of what they've got going on!

Holy Smoke!Facebook

Skyeline - Something About Your Basement Review

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Skyeline, the indie-alternative band from Ocean City, New Jersey, is a band I am really excited about. Their debut record, Something About Your Basement, which came out this past December, is a fantastic ambient, pop-rock album filled with lush soundscapes, alluring vocals, and clever songwriting that will envelop you entirely throughout its 51-minute run time. Comprised of lead singer, Brittany Byrne, guitarist Brandon Cruz, and bassist, Jack Rose, the power trio combines a sense of experienced professionalism with a laidback DIY feel to give them a sound, and more importantly a feeling, that is all their own.

Having formed in 2015, Skyline is inspired by the likes of Death Cab for Cutie, The Deftones, and The 1975. Interestingly enough, rather than sounding like any of these icons, Skyeline seems to have dissected these artists’ music, taken out the bits and chunks that suit their musicianship, and intuitively put them back together in a refreshingly original way. Something About Your Basement sees the band explore the alternative genre and push the boundaries of it into an almost psychedelic, jam band-esque territory, yet still retain a pop-rock songwriting style at its core. With no track on this album being less than 4 minutes, and the longest one lasting over 8 minutes, Something About Your Basement may seem like a daunting investment of time to some people, but listeners who dive head first into it will be treated to a truly impressive record.

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Something About Your Basement Review:
1. Out There
2. Without Me
3. Three Years
4. Everything
5. Someone New
6. Caught Up
7. Stay the Same 
8. Prom Song
9.
Colors

 

 

Something About Your Basement kicks off with the perfect intro track in “Out There”. From the very first note on guitar you can immediately tell the amount of passion and care that went into making this project; it simply sounds fantastic. Speaking of guitar, Cruz’s guitar work throughout the entire record is one of the highlights of the album. While he may not shred hardcore like some players, his ability to find beautifully mellow tones to compliment not only Byrne’s vocals, but also Skyeline’s dreamy sound is an achievement that cannot be understated.

Brittany Byrne, the lead singer of Skyeline is arguably the biggest draw of the band. Although it seems (at least on the recordings) that she tries to let the music take a front seat rather than her vocals, there’s no denying the instant charm and appeal of the tone of her voice. With all of her subtle inflections and the rich, yet vulnerable quality of her voice, it’s hard not to compare Byrne’s voice voice to that of Hayley Williams of Paramore. Unfortunately, Something About Your Basement has her voice buried within the songs just a tad too much, and uses it too infrequently for it to stand out in the spotlight it deserves.

Just like losing Bryne’s vocals in the mix of these songs, I found myself losing a lot of the drums as well. I was craving a punchier, and heavier drum sound to better discern the great drum work, that will probably go unnoticed, especially in the longer, more sonic songs. Additionally, some of these songs are just too long. One song in particular, “Someone New” repeats the same vocal line and chord progression over and over again for 8 minutes with very subtle variation. It’s my least favorite track on the album, and easily could have been half the time and achieved the same effect it was going for.

Something About Your Basement by Skyline, was actually recorded in a basement, but you’d be hard pressed to know that based off the quality of this record. Skyeline has created a truly special, albeit flawed, debut album. It’s a sonic journey stacked with luxuriant tones and sounds, and alluring vocals that proves that this band is on the path to greatness. That path may be a little too long during this particular outing, but it’s still an incredibly joyous time that makes me even more excited about what lies down the road.

Check out there social media to keep up with their latest news, otherwise thanks for reading!

Skyeline: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Official Site // YouTube
 

Elephant Fire - Natural Heart Review

Photographer:  Melissa Lucciola

Photographer: Melissa Lucciola

To write an album is an undertaking, anyone will tell you this. Different bands have different processes to make albums happen - and Elephant Fire had their own, unique way of creating their most recent release, too.

Natural Heart is the September release from New Jersey band Elephant Fire. A rebirth since their last release back in 2014, a total of three years in between the two. The new album is a self proclaimed result of "a six month pilgrimage into the hearts of North America's national parks for this album. Guitar slung on my shoulder, the way of the coined “Natural Heart Tour" provided resonant rebirth in the desert vortices of red rock mountains, the great joys of the giant sequoia’s, and trillions of stars of the Milky Way galaxy fireside on the Rio Grande," says singer, Adam Wall.

Clearly an innovative, different process than most bands we've listened to. And what better way to inspire art than nature? We aren't sure. Either way, we've got the track list below so check that out before we delve into the belly of the beast that is Natural Heart.

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Natural Heart Tracklist:
1. Natural Heart
2.
Come With Me
3.
Lover's In The Bike Lane
4.
Burn Me Up
5.
It's Alright
6.  It's Rising
7. Karmic Siege 06:45

 

 

 

The 7-track LP is a psychedelic pop renaissance that came together with the help of Elephant Fire's four members. Adam Wall (Singer/Songwriter/Guitar/Synth/Percussion), Steve Wall (Guitar/Vocals/Synth/Misc. Instr.), Zac Colwell (Bass/Vocals), and Dave Heilman (Drums). In comparison to their 2014 EP, there are slight but important difference that Elephant Fire bring to the table in Natural Heart, and that's something to be excited about.

While they maintain their groovy, fun flare for psychedelic, indie instrumental sound, the band upgrades in technicality and emotional moments. Natural Heart is grown up Elephant Fire that is to be expected from a later release, and we're diggin' it. Normally we'd pull apart each track, but Natural Heart is pretty streamlined. Each track feels familiar and solid, nothing really stuck out to me which makes this album a nice background listen.

I do wonder what Elephant Fire's goal is. While the background information is interesting and helps make the listen more meaningful, I wanted more emotion in Natural Heart. I feel like a nearly 4 year difference between releases could've meant a growth - and while it's clear the technical aspect of this album feels better, more well done and fuller, it isn't satisfying the part of me that wants to connect to it. 

At it's base, Natural Heart is a good vibe. It's easy to listen to, has good intentions and is well versed instrumentally. I like Elephant Fire and what they're doing - and if making feel good music is where they're at, then I'm right there with them listening to this album while I sweat out whiskey at the gym. Definitely check out this album, and take a peek at their social media to never miss an update!

Elephant Fire: Facebook

Scooter Brothers - Lookin' Good! Review

Monmouth County seems to be a breeding ground for unique alternative rock bands. It is incredibly often I find myself finding out about a number of rock outfits that fit the mold of groovy, savvy rock bands akin to many groups that play Asbury Park. And after checking out their albums, I wonder to myself: why haven’t I seen this band around Asbury?! That probably speaks to the clique problem in that scene, but I digress - people who love the alternative rock camaraderie of Asbury bands but want something new should be listening to Manalapan-based band Scooter Brothers, specifically their album Lookin’ Good!

Lookin’ Good!
 is an energetic romp carried by four alternative rock tracks that keep you fully engaged and bobbing your head. Scooter Brothers released the EP on September 29, 2017 with the promise that half of the sales from their album would be donated to UNICEF’s Hurricane Maria relief fund for Puerto Rico. Listeners already had more than one reason to pick up this album, but that’s a truly wonderful added incentive to do so.

We've got the tracklist down below for you to follow along!

Lookin' Good! Tracklist:
1. No Diane
2. Beatch Boys
3. Mirror Me
4. Train Ride

 








Instrumentally, listeners will enjoy the nod to surf rock on the first two tracks “No Diane” and “Beatch Boys” (not a typo).  The last two tracks dig into a bit more of a rock n’ roll sound, with the guitars not only holding down melody but adding spacey auxiliary sounds by way of screaming leads and tonalities reminiscent of shoe-gaze. The bass and drums hold down the rhythm section, with drum fills and bass lines that contribute well to the sound the band is achieving as a whole. What I love about “Train Ride” is the occasional piano and organ parts that rear their heads to add depth to the track.

What stood out to me were the creative lyrics on each song, each sharing specific vignettes told by the lyricist while leaving interpretation completely open to the listener. “Mirror Me” seemingly shares the story of a relationship between two people who feel bound by their ties to each other and society’s expectations of their individual existences, though it could mean anything. I feel it is so important to note how hilarious “No Diane” is lyrically, a story about how the singer was told by a ghost that the woman he is destined to marry is named ‘Diane.’ At the song’s peak, the instruments peel back the volume only for the vocalist to admit in all his years of existing, there is no way this could be true unless someone wants to introduce him to a twenty-something year old woman named Diane; he hasn’t found her.

Anyone who is looking for a diverse alternative rock album should check out Scooter Brothers’ Lookin’ Good!, available now on Bandcamp. The EP is sonically engaging and incredibly creative.  Be sure to follow Scooter Brothers on their social media down below to stay up-to-date on future shows!

Scooter Brothers: Facebook // Twitter

Burn The Louvre - We'll Be Just Fine Review

Design by:  Marah Montague

Design by: Marah Montague

Canada natives Burn the Louvre, up-and-coming indie rock band, have recently released their new EP, We’ll Be Just Fine. With a total of six songs and a striking album cover that draws the eye, We’ll Be Just Fine is Burn the Louvre’s second EP, and a great step forward onto the music scene. Their first EP, Post-Romance, was released in November 2014.

The new album has been featured on college radio stations across Canada such as Mohawk College & McMaster University in Ontario, Ryerson University in Toronto, University of Guelph, and Brock University in St. Catherine’s. Burn the Louvre has also been featured on several music blogs in their home turf, but now, The Hook Journal is giving them a warm American welcome. 

Check out their social media down below!

We'll Be Just Fine Tracklist:
1. Fast Cars & Porn Stars
2. Body Lies
3. Give Me Love
4. Simpler Places
5. Breakdown
6. We’ll Be Just Fine
 

 

 

 

We’ll Be Just Fine starts off with the track “Fast Cars & Porn Stars,” which begins with a guitar melody that immediately makes my ears perk up. The song introduces the vocals of frontman Jordan Speare. Speare’s voice has a similar cadence to other indie rock singers like John Gourley of Portugal. The Man, and Nicholas Petricca of WALK THE MOON. The songs on We’ll Be Just Fine sound like something similar to what a Philly native would hear on Radio 104.5. My personal favorites were “Give Me Love” and “Simpler Places.”

The lyrics to “Simpler Places” are all too relatable – not to call on an overused sentiment, but it does really apply here. The chorus of “Well I don’t wanna try living a lie for the rest of my days, for the rest of my days and the rest of my nights,” stood out to me the most. This song is one I would expect to find tucked away in the soundtrack of a coming-of-age indie movie; the lyrics tell the story of that sort of journey of finding yourself, of reaching a point in your life when you realize what you truly want and who you want to be.

“Simpler Places” has a music video out, which you can watch here!

An honorable mention goes to the song “Breakdown” for its instrumentals. Burn the Louvre is certainly a band to watch out for, and We’ll Be Just Fine is worth a listen. Download the EP now and be sure to follow Burn the Louvre for more updates!

Burn the Louvre: Facebook // Instagram // YouTube // Twitter