music journalism

Party Muscles - Does It Even Matter? Review

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Party Muscles are a culmination of Philadelphia’s strongest music minds - a kinship between two friends working in a record store, bonding over their love for garage rock, melody, and good freakin’ tunes. Celebrating and riding the high from their August 2nd, 2019 release - Does It Even Matter?, Party Muscles are ready to play shows, make feel good tunes, and keep kickin’ ass.

Thanks to the efforts of current band lineup Colin McCarry, Beau Everett Gordon, Tyler Pursel and Joshua Strange for making up the indie rock infused sound of Party Muscles. A sound one could describe as fun, wildly talented, and always a damn good time. Does It Even Matter? is the bands debut effort - one that is an impressive, well written collection of bops sure to turn your summer around.

Check out the track list below to follow along!

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Does It Even Matter? Tracklist:
1. She Goes To Juuliard
2. Nascent
3. Peruvian Sunshine
4. Photography Raptor
5. I’m The Jaguar
6. Foliage
7. Lorraine
8. Capgun
9. Secret Language
10. Pocari Sweat
11. Inside Out

With inspiration coming from early 2000’s bands like The Strokes, The Libertines, Parquet Courts and The Hives, it’s easy to pick up on what Party Muscles wants their sound to be. Does It Even Matter? is an incredible example of a successful, impactful debut album that sets the standard for everything else to follow. It is well constructed, written with purpose, and performed meticulously. The 11-track album floats between itself, never skipping a beat, but never keeping it the same. The record was truly such a good time to listen to and enjoy, it made writing a review about it difficult.

Enough said.

All songs on the album were written by band creators, Tyler Pursel and Colin Mccarry. It was produced by Tyler Pursel and Josh Strange, and finally recorded at Strange Audio Electronics and Creep Records. A true Philadelphia project, through and through. What I enjoyed most about this album was that it created it’s own space to exist within. It is a breath of fresh air in a space that cultivates a hugely DIY core, and while Party Muscles and Does It Even Matter? are well crafted, and poignant, they never take themselves too seriously. Melodic, and groovy - their sound resonates with a multitude of listeners by culminating a variety of genre-esque sounds. Their draw on early 2000’s indie rock doesn’t over power their message, and my biggest criticism is I wish I could’ve read the lyrics for the tracks while listening.

Either way - this is a good album, and it makes me excited for the future of Party Muscles. Give it a listen, check out a show, buy some merch! The good people in Party Muscles have an August residency at Ortliebs - August 15th, 22nd and 29th, which means you have zero reason to miss out on these talented up & comers.

For more information, follow their social media links down below!

Party Muscles: Bandcamp // Facebook

Wack Cheddar - Who Cut The Cheese? Review

Entirely instrumental, and full of funky fresh tunes, Wack Cheddar knows how to make every moment feel cool, calm and collected. Philadelphia, PA 6-piece jazz & funk infused group is as much fun, and as serious, about making good music as anyone can (or should) be. With shows, festivals and shared stages all over the tri-state area under their belts, Wack Cheddar is well versed in bringing all they have to whatever they’re doing.

Who Cut The Cheese is the band's latest release, available for streaming and purchase since July 16th, 2019 - the band is riding the high of new music, a more defined sound, and the endless possibilities of the future. The well constructed, easy to listen, but instrumentally poised EP is one that truly highlights the growth that Wack Cheddar has made throughout the years.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along with our review!

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Who Cut The Cheese Tracklist:
1. It Wasn’t Me
2. Ex-Lover Trash Talk
3. Psycho From Astoria
4. Are We Distracting You?





The jazzy personality of Who Cut The Cheese is the corner stone for elements the band works so hard to bring in - a level of funk, pop and rock, which immerse themselves in for a successful blending of sound. Entirely instrumental, the band knows how to tell a well crafted story. Driven by a dynamo horn section, while also holding the beat steady with a lively, hard-hitting rhythm section, Wack Cheddar brings their music to life right in front of your eyes. Each of the talented musicians brings a tasteful, masterful sound.

A true showcase of hard work and passionate music making, but also never taking itself too seriously, Wack Cheddar solidifies their testimonial to music in this EP. Available on all streaming platforms, Who Cut The Cheese rings in a new era for Wack Cheddar, and what they have to offer in the future.

The group is available for shows, and you can check out their music on any of their social media links and streaming services down below!

Wack Cheddar: Facebook // Instagram // Bandcamp

Dysfunktone - Collection Perspective Album Review

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Good vibes & good dudes, Dysfunktone is here to bring all they’ve got.

Long Island born and bred, the four piece band has set their hearts on creating music that inspires people to dance, listen, and be in the moment. Thanks to the efforts of current members Rob Meza (Guitar & Vocals), Brandon Hanna (Guitar & Vocals), David Wolfsohn (Bass & Vocals), and Dakota Henry (Drums), Dysfunktone is looking forward to what’s in store for their musical future.

From humble beginnings in 2015, Dysfunktone has worked hard to not stick to any one sound, while also creating a feeling for listeners with music all their own. Jazz, reggae, rock, funk, metal: all genres that could describe any sound from the foursome at any given time. Collective Perspective is the culmination of that work, their first release since 2017.

Check out the 9-track LP down below to get a sense of what we’re talking about!

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Collective Perspective Tracklist:
1. Afterimage
2. Luminescence
3. Dementia
4. Reflection Collection
5. Toasty
6. Clouded
7. Mirror
8. Hourglass
9. Feelin' Time

The 9-track LP is a catch all for Dysfunktone’s self proclaimed genre blending good vibes. The tracks mostly remind me of Acid Rock and Funky Jazz having a baby - with the shortest song being around 3 minutes, and the longest being over 11 minutes. Generally, the album is good. It floats seamlessly between each track, it doesn’t ever take itself too seriously, and it feels welcoming even to novice listeners of Dysfunktone.

I can appreciate a genre blending jam band as much as the next person, but part of me wants to ask the question: why and also who cares? The album can leave a little bit to ask in the sense of togetherness, and what makes this album different than their 2017 release? I wonder what aspects of genre blending can be applied to make a concise, cohesive album without giving up the ideals that the band already carries. The album feels too all over, and can make any listener feel a little alienated upon first or second hear-thru.

Moving forward, I would look forward to an album that sees itself in a better way. One that takes the idea of genre blending, and pushes it into the song making, rather than just putting a multitude of different songs together and calling it as such. I like the vibe, I like the tone - the band feels good to listen to, but constructing an album is just as important as the songs that are in it, and taking the time to thoughtfully craft is what I’d be interested in.

As far as the band is concerned, Dysfunktone’s goals are simple: keep playing shows, spreading good vibes, and making good music. DIY to their core, and ready to spread the love, Dysfunktone is headed towards a bright future. If you like something to bob your head along to, Dysfunktone’s got you covered - but, ultimately, if you like good music and good people, well then you’ve found your people, regardless.

Check out Dysfunktone’s social media to keep up with everything they’ve got going on, including (but not limited to) shows, new releases, and good tunes!

Dysfunktone: Facebook

Ship and Sail - From Seeds Review

Photography: Abby Recker

Photography: Abby Recker

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

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

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

Album Artwork by Brijana Bondy

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ship & Sail: Facebook // Instagram // Twitter

**All biography information thanks to Brijana Bondy**

Hoser - Nosebleeder Review

Our Philadelphia favorites, Hoser, have drudged through those winter blues with a nice little two track EP, and we feel blessed. Nosebleeder was released on February 5th, so we may be late to the party, but we're staying for the celebration.

The 2-track EP was recorded with Mike Britt at the bins, and mastered by Troy Glessner at Specter Studios. According to the band, after their brief hiatus, the EP "was recorded very quickly last summer while in the midst of booking our first national tour. So we pretty much had a gun to our head to finish by August. It was a very crazy insane summer. We finished recording, toured, got home, and than did much needed work in post on the EP. So technically the EP was released on tour but it was a terrible version and we pulled it the day we got home. So we like to think that it was a demo and this is the real release. As you can tell we have gotten heavier and more dynamic. We have added our black/death metal love into the music on Nosebleeder. Kensington and Somerset is about the ongoing struggle of staying clean and the terrible cycle of relapse and lose of hope. I wrote that song when I was really young like 19 or 20. I am and most of Hoser are recovering Heroin Addicts, so the song means a lot to us. We are really happy to finally have a good recording of it, and finally have it out in the world."

Check out the tracklist down below!

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Nosebleeder Tracklist:
1. Nosebleeder
2. Kensington & Somerset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In true Hoser form, the EP is a gritty, rock & roll saga that feels much longer and more intense than just two tracks. While the tempo is fast paced, it doesn’t feel unwarranted. I actually really enjoy this harder Hoser, with an opening track that has an intro to make you shake in your boots.

Their endearment for noisy black metal is prominent in this EP, and we’re perfectly fine with it - opening track “Nosebleeder” is going to give you what you may have been yearning in previous EP’s with Hoser; constantly teetering on the edge of rock & punk.

Check it out below!

“Kensington & Somerset” revives a more European style Punk that, while differing from our old favorites, keeps Hoser right on track with what they want & love about making music. While it’s extremely short, it closes the EP in a potent & meaningful way! This EP is one you don’t want to miss, and while we’ve been sitting on it, you definitely shouldn’t!

You can check out Hoser on their social media down below to keep up with them in the meantime. Otherwise, stream their music above on their bandcamp!

Hoser: Facebook // Instagram

Brushstroke - One vs. One Review

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Debut album from Southwest Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Eoin Murphy is like a well crafted mixed drink; icy sweet from the first sip with a lingering tension at the end of each gulp. Released under the pseudonym “Brushstroke,” this album paints a masterpiece from ear to ear. 

Ten songs come together to make up One vs. One, and they can be enjoyed on all major streaming platforms. If you consider yourself a listener who is hip to the artist-centric music streaming site Bandcamp, then you may have spotted One vs. One in their January edition of Bandcamp Weekly, where the website features new releases everyone should be hearing; otherwise a digital tip of the hat to Murphy from the Bandcamp family.

Check out the tracklist down below!

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One vs. One Tracklist:
1. Welcome
2. Tapestries
3. Tongue Tied
4. S.T.C.
5. Fall In Love (w J Dilla)
6. Mindgames
7. Fever Dreams
8. Sun Lens
9. Tomorrow
10. Thanks & Goodbye
 



It was the catchy single “Tapestries” that caught their attention, a song that has any listener singing along by the time the second chorus hits. The hook’s lyrics are filled with imagery and transport you to a hazy, blissful atmosphere layered with wispy guitar leads...

“Waitin on that dotted time
Drivin through the candlelight
Watching as the sun fades on the hill
I can feel this passin through
Maybe I’ll get back to you
Only after I see that blue
Tapestries of me and you”


Murphy’s voice tiptoes throughout the track, the longing for something he once had evident in his swooning vocal melodies. The lyricism feels impeccable, especially with lines like, “Drivin through the candlelight,” and, “Tapestries of me and you.”

Can you see it? The blurred horizon of driving through candlelight and two people weaving their relationship with each strand like a woven tapestry.

Tucked in the middle of One Vs. One, "Brushstroke" pays a homage to one of the most worshipped producers of our time, J Dilla. Murphy serves up his own rendition of the beloved tune “Fall In Love” and decides to strip the song of the beat entirely. This is a bold move to cover a Dilla tune, but he pulls it off gracefully. The cover starts out with simple guitar strums, eventually blooming into a multilayered masterpiece. The riff continues over and over again, trying to lull the listener into a peaceful dream.This record is a mature and powerful debut release from Brushstroke.

Not only are the songs catchy, but they highlight Murphy’s prowess as a guitarist, singer, and producer.

I cannot wait to hear what Brushstroke has in store for the future. In the meantime, of course, at least we have an entire album to jam to while we wait!Catch Brushstroke’s updates on their social media, or today, March 22nd at Bourbon & Branch right here in Philadelphia!

Brushstroke: Facebook // Instagram

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

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!