music reviews

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**

Shin Guard - Five Songs Review

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It's been a while since we've gotten some pop punk, Shin Guard is helping us change that, and we're all here for it. The Pittsburgh foursome are working hard to bring what the feel to the table in their latest release, Five Songs.

Five Songs is actually a four track EP released back in December, and Shin Guard have given themselves the title of 'Pittsburgh Sadness' so there's that. It's gonna be a lot of feelings, and some yelling, but if you're ready to throw down then we are, too.

Owen Traynor (vocals, guitar, songwriting, synthesis), Joe Bojarski (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Jake Yencik (bass, backing vocals), and Ryan Yester (drums) make up Shin Guard and have worked hard together to make leaps and bounds in improvement from their initial release, Leglike, back in April 2017. 

Check out their tracklist below to follow along!

Photography: Jake Yencik

Photography: Jake Yencik

Five Songs Tracklist:
1. Bemis Point
2. Corsages
3. You Turned Everything To Paper
4.Flubline


 

 

 

 

Opening track "Bemis Point" doesn't feel like the perfect fit for me, as a listener, for opening track. It shows off where the band's headspace is, but second track, "Corsages" holds a lot more weight for me, so I sort of wish the two were flip flopped as it would've made the listening experience better and more streamlined. "Corsages" also shows off a hell of a lot more of talent then "Bemis Point" which would've just aided the band in creating an EP that showed off their absolute best talent, track by track.

Five Songs definitely gets better as it goes on, as I really only stumbled on "Bemis Point" which felt out of place in comparison to the other three tracks that follow. "You Turned Everything To Paper" uses an interesting spoken word technique to open itself up, disenchanting the listener into melancholy. The lyricism is potent and good, and the instrumental synthetics that go into the track make it feel like a hybrid ambient bedroom track. Interesting stuff.

Closing track, "Flubline" is probably the most fitting with "Corsages" and the sound that the band feels the most proficient in. I wanted more tracks like this. Tracks that said a lot without having to say a lot - that spoke instrumentally to the listener, that used experiences that felt relatable to the emotion Shin Guard seemed to want to be going for. I think these four guys have a solid ground to work off of, and I'm interested to see where they're headed and what sound they decide to settle in on and hone.

Until then, you can keep up with Shin Guard down below with their social media links, and if you're ever in Pittsburgh, be sure to check them out!

Shin Guard: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr // YouTube

Copley Woods - Sightings Review

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On January 12, 2018, I ventured to the beloved DIY venue Boontunes on a rainy night in Boonton, New Jersey to see some local music.  While the weather was gloomy, it was a night that many from the scene gathered together for to support Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), a medical humanitarian organization. When the show commenced, a four-piece post-hardcore band named Copley Woods took the stage. Their performance was extremely hard-hitting and emotionally-driven, captivating the show-goers who showed up early and were lucky enough to catch them. I was taken by surprise when the vocalist, Jake, mentioned that this was their first show.

With a promising future ahead of them, Copley Woods are sure to win over listeners of emo and post-hardcore with their EP, Sightings.

Copley Woods started off the new year by dropping Sightings on Bandcamp New Year’s Day. Sightings is a fast-paced post-hardcore album influenced by early emo bands, while drawing parallels to newer post-hardcore bands (I personally heard some semblance of Touche Amore). With fervent, chaotic guitars and fervent vocal performances, this album is the epitome of post-hardcore that is true to the genre while offering a fresh new sound.  

Check out their tracklist below!

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Sightings Tracklist:
1. Mirage  
2. Haunted   
3. Emotion Engine
4. Intruders    
5. Always There

 

 

 

 

The album begins with the chaotic wrecking ball that is “Mirage;” it immediately pumps you up from the moment you press play.

It’s rhythmically interesting, and flows well. The words sung in “Mirage” are a stark warning of our earth crumbling due to the effects of harsh climate change from global warming. As the track slows to a driving drum beat to make way for an ambient guitar lead, nicely sung vocals and the following track, “Haunted.” On track two, the chaos continues with even more visceral relentlessness. Notably, the production on the vocals is dirty and distorted, which I love - it adds to the song’s overall mood.  

Sightings’ halfway point is marked by a melancholy but soothing mostly-instrumental track aptly titled “Emotion Engine.” It showcases that Copley Woods is not just a one-trick pony, and is a nice intermission in the midst of discord and disarray.  While being the longest track, it progresses well and never drags.  The music crescendos towards the track’s climax, where the vocals return to deliver some feelsy lyrics.  

Track four “Intruders” is moody and dark, with slightly less noise, but just as powerful.  It tells the story of having an encounter with an alien, lyrically depicting a person who firmly believes “I know what I saw”. I especially loved the vocal production on “Intruders” and thought the stacked vocals were a great fit for the track. To me, the tone colors in this song are reminiscent of 90’s alt-rock, but mesh well within the context of Copley Wood’s sound.

The final song, “Always There”, feels like a nod towards 00’s hardcore and is a strong finale before the album concludes. With lyrics surrounding the haunting feeling of anxiety, it ties into the albums’ various contextual themes nicely, especially the visual theme of the album art- the suspicion that extraterrestrial beings are watching us. 

Copley Woods is sure to see much success with their EP, Sightings.  With a solid first offering in Sightings, anyone is sure to enjoy the attention to songwriting, lyrical content, song structure and dynamics. Copley Wood’s album showcases musicianship that surely proves they have the makings for longevity. Sightings is a must-listen, and if you regularly spin emo/post hardcore- music, it’s going to be hard to stop listening.  

As always, thanks for reading and check out Copley Woods' social media to never miss an update below!

Copley Woods: Facebook // Bandcamp

My Home is the Sea - Self Titled Review

March has begun, and we're finally catching up. Today on our radar is Philadelphia's own My Home is the Sea, a bedroom pop duo that exists in the sub-reality of your consciousness - and goddamnit we're in love. The dreamy duo consists of Marc Neibauer and Natalie Wimberg, the masterminds behind the June release of their self-titled EP.

The five track EP is a stellar beginning for the group, and I can't stop listening. While the release is nearly a year old, I was most impressed by the variety of electronic techniques and sounds the group used to create it. These techniques really hold up the EP on a higher standard and make it feel flexible in it's fluctuation in ideology and sound.

Check out the tracklist below!

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Self Titled Tracklist:
1. Chase Something
2. Do As You're Told
3. No One's Daughter
4. Fuse  
5. Passenger

 

 

 

 

Of course, an EP like this takes more than just two characters to create brilliance, and luckily for Wimberg and Neibauer they had some help thanks to Chiemena Ukazim (guitar, solos "Fuse" and "Passenger"), and Robert Rouse (drums "Fuse" and "Passenger"). Of course, the two are incredibly impressive on their own, with a multitude of vocal performance and instrumental backing between them, you're sure to be impressed by this Self Titled EP.

Our favorite track off of My Home is the Sea is "No One's Daughter" because it really capitalizes on the sound that My Home is the Sea seems to be going for. A healthy dose between anthemic and ethereal - bedroom pop vs. pop rock. However, it is interesting to note that the EP does slowly dissolve from one being into another from first track to last, with "No One's Daughter" the middle of the sound sandwich. Tracks 1 & 2 are defined more in areas of shoegaze, bedroom pop. while 4 & 5 descend into that more anthemic rock pop we mentioned earlier. 

Either way, for a debut EP this is pretty stellar work. I mean, we're impressed. And sure, we sometimes are easily impressed, but this stuff is good so maybe you should check it out and hear it for yourselves! That's the only real way to gauge, so do that, we've got it streaming below for you!

As always, thanks for reading and definitely check out My Home is the Sea and pray they put something new out soon (we sure are). Until then, keep up with them via their social media down below!

My Home is the Sea: Facebook

Bucolic - Rope's Wing Review

We're really into dreampop sounds right now. Ok, we were never not into dreampop sounds, sue us. Bucolic is one of our most recent listens, and by recent we mean September - and we're sorry, we're trying to catch up!

Based out of New Jersey, Bucolic (aka Seth Carpenter) has been working hard in the tri-state area to share their sounds, and with play time in both Philly and NYC, Bucolic is already making stellar progress. The Debut EP, Rope's Wing is what we've got our eyes (and ears) on as of late. The dreamy, lo-fi EP is one that reminds me of afternoons in summer. It's the dead of winter, but listening to this EP has got me feeling warm all over.

Check out the tracklist below!

Rope's Wing Tracklist:
1. Daisy
2. Rope's Wing
3. Ice Bugs
4. Blissfully Unaware
5. Great Miles Old

 

 

 

 

At five tracks, Rope's Wing is on the longer side of EP's, but honestly I couldn't get enough of it. Each track it's own, unique journey in the splendor that is Bucolic or maybe what Bucolic wants you to be.

With an interwoven collection of sounds that bridge on the cusp of a blended genre, Bucolic uses electronic noise in a way to make music feel distorted - bridging on psychedelic in some tracks, or folktronic (the blend of folk and electronic). The overall vibe of lyricism and sound is indie, with hints of dreamy-pop in certain tracks. Of course, we don't want to get too bogged down in logistics, because that doesn't always matter so much.

Opening track "Daisy" lulls you into the EP and it's rhythmic beating. Carpenter's voice overlays itself and electronic noise to create the sensation of cascading sound. Title track "Rope's Wing" is a bit more upbeat, the electronic sound makes this song especially feel more psych-rock to me. Something interesting also stuck out to me: none of the tracks falling under 3.5 minutes, you can tell a lot of care and decision went into making the EP which makes for a more enjoyable listen.

"Ice Bugs" is a fantastic middle track, giving way for a bit of a different sound, a transition that takes hold for the latter half of the EP. The overall feel of the track is indie, with a catchy chord progression and a retrospective ideology in the lyrics. "Blissfully Unaware" stuck out to me because that opening sound is like one you'd hear from an old record player, the slight lapse in noise to create a really vintage vibe.

Closing tracks "Great Miles Old" is probably my favorite off of the EP. It brings together the entirety of Rope's Wing and reworks it. This album is one that feels poised, elegant and exciting to listen too. It's easy to put on after a long day and zone out too, or write toon (in our case). Either way, you should be checking this out - so do that.

In the meantime, check out Bucolic on their social media down below! As always thanks for reading!

Bucolic: Facebook // SoundCloud // YouTube

Curtis Cooper - Messy Review

Photographer:  Stavi Xinou

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

It's been almost two years since we first met Curtis Cooper in a coffee shop on the corner of 13th and Pine Street in Philadelphia, PA. Our friendship with Curtis has only gotten stronger since that first interview over hot chocolate and tea, and Curtis has grown in innumerable ways that only make us feel proud to know them.

Their latest achievement being Messy, an 11-track deluge of emotional outpouring that breaks out from Curtis' Laughing In Line in a way that remains, at it's core, everything that we already loved, but more bruised and bleeding and ready to give. Released on November 13th, Messy has been ruminating in our minds since, a daily listen on the car ride home or while writing - and we're pretty sure you'll feel the same after taking a listen.

But first, semantics.

All songs were written and arranged by Curtis Cooper, engineered by Scott Stitzer and Nick Barnes, produced by Scott Stitzer, and mastered by Ryan Schwabe. Curtis Cooper (vox, guitar, synth, drums track 11, whistle), Jack Zaferes (bass), and Scott Stitzer (drums, synth, percussion, mad scientist) put together Cooper's ideas to create Messy & with all of that tandem effort, you have an impressionable, inescapable album to get lost in.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

Album Art: Erik Savage

Album Art: Erik Savage

Messy Tracklist:
1. Freak Out
2. Philly Jelly
3. Crazy
4. Interlude 1
5. Percs of Life
6. Yeah, No
7. JKayla
8. Everyone Loves You
9. Everybody's Dying
10. Interlude 2
11. Is It Real


Messy has taken Curtis a step further, if we're allowed to say so. In comparison to Laughing In Line, Messy's realness leaves listeners feeling connected to Cooper in a way that Laughing In Line always kept at arm's length - while that isn't to discredit the debut album in anyway, as it's still one of our favorites, it seems more so to do with the fact that Curtis Cooper is growing as an artist and Messy is just that - messy and trying to figure that out with the poise and grace that only Curtis knows how to show.

Opening track 'Freak Out' is unlike anything we've heard before from the artist, a stellar opening track as it jumpstarts the rabbit hole that Messy cultivates, fall into the spaces of mind you haven't been dealing with. With obvious rock influence, this track maintains a tone that feels comfortable for the album to begin with. 'Philly Jelly' and 'Crazy' are going to be staples of the album, reminiscent of Laughing In Line in sound and form, with important lyrical content that we feel also really makes up a huge chunk of this album. 'Percs of Life' and 'Yeah, No' follow suit, are easy to listen and relate to.

The two interludes are really interesting to me because the only successful interludes I've ever heard are in more conceptual albums and usually flow casually in between tracks. However, the interludes here feel more weighted and exciting as they not only flow between tracks, but they also offer up feeling whether that be via whistling in 'Interlude 1' or the pure instrumental of 'Interlude 2,' honestly I was just really blown away by the cohesiveness of these two tracks because at first glance it can be a bit off putting. 

Stand out tracks for us are 'Everyone Loves You,' 'Everyone's Dying,' and 'Is It Real.' These tracks stand out because they feel new, fresh and exciting for Curtis. Maybe it's just where our head is at right now, but we really connected to these three tracks on every level they experience - especially 'Is It Real' the closing tracks of all closing tracks, seriously what the heck listen to it right now. Honestly, though, we could be here forever talking about how much we love Curtis Cooper. Their sound is ambitious and addictive. They take what we love about the Philadelphia music scene, that guttural, instinctual, clenched feeling of emotional expression and put it into one place. This album is easy to listen to, it ebbs & flows against itself in a way that feels familiar but also new. 

Check out Messy, check out Curtis Cooper, their album release show is on January 19th and you definitelty don't want to miss out on that or this album. Below we've got their social media links, and you can check out their bandcamp via the tracklist above! As always thanks for reading and catch up with us next time!

Curtis Cooper: Facebook // SoundCloud

Green Knuckle Material - Renaissance Review

Green Knuckle Material are ending 2017 with their December release of Renaissance. The EP is a fun-loving, sweet little collection of 5-tracks that Green Knuckle Material should be proud of. I mean, we're gonna practically beg you to listen to this one. With an infusion of hip-hop, indie rock, alternative rock and rap rock you're in for a montage of good sounds and good feels. 

But first, let's introduce the people that brought us Renaissance: Scatterbrain (Rap Vocals), Young Dan (Guitar & Lead Vocals), D String (Bass & Vocals), Mudd Dog (Guitar & Vocals), and the Hawaiian (drums). The EP was produced, engineered, mixed, and mastered by Josh Gustin and Mike Ravenda. The 5-track EP is a cohesive, exciting & fun to groove to when the winter blues have you down.

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

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Renaissance Tracklist:
1. Lullaby
2. Soon As
3. Hole
4. For the First Time
5. Pictures

 

 

 

 

Opening track 'Lullaby' sets the tone for the rest of the EP. Reminiscent of bands like Pepper, Green Knuckle Material leave an open hand out for listeners in this first track. The EP devolves into a more 90's rock influenced sound with an identifying guitar tone, and vocals to offset it. Tracks like 'Soon As' and 'Hole' most represent this part of the EP. The piano & shrieking vocals in 'Hole' especially are not to be missed.

'For The First Time' slows it down for Green Knuckle Material, similar to 'Lullaby.' The piano in this track offsets the harshness of the vocals, and the chorus is the highlight of the track for me. Closing & longest track "Pictures" is the black sheep of the bunch, but I don't mean that in a bad way at all. I really enjoyed 'Pictures' because this EP could've gotten really stale very quickly, but GKM gave listeners a new sound in each track and that's a really stellar thing.

Generally, GKM have always stuck to their guns and are a band you can count on for a good time and feel good vibes. Renaissance is a fantastic EP and you'd be silly not to listen. Check out Green Knuckle Material & Renaissance before the year is over, and check out their social media down below to stay in the loop with everything they've got going on!

Green Knuckle Material: Website // Instagram // Facebook

The Carousers - Self Titled EP Review

Were you missing that authentic sound of 90’s pop-punk? Well, boy, do I have an album for you.

The Carousers have released their debut, self-titled, EP, and it’s filled with 5 glorious punk tunes that are as fun and infectious as they are hard, and in-your-face. Hailing from the mystical land of New Jersey, The Carousers are a trio comprised of lead singer/guitarist Joey Affatato, bassist Cassidy Crosby, and tambourine player (as well as drums), Andy Jackle.

When I usually do reviews, I like to go to try and find a band’s inspirations to get a glimpse into what other artists played a role in shaping that band’s music. While The Carousers definitely have a familiar sound, comparing them to another well-known, established act has proved next to impossible. They list smaller, more local bands as influences on their sound, and besides that being an extremely awesome thing, it perfectly embodies the raw, ‘I don’t care what you think, I’m just gonna be me’ attitude that is present in every note of this EP.

Check out the EP's tracklist down below!

The Carousers Tracklist:
1. She’s the Devil
2. Strangers
3. Cracked Pot
4. Another World
5. Halloween Night

 

 

 

 

The album wastes no time in thrusting the listener into everything that The Carousers have to offer. “She’s the Devil” opens with some big ol’ power chords with Affatato’s signature fuzzy guitar sound perfectly backed by a very competent rhythm section. The song quickly changes from a tighter verse, to a more open, mellow pre-chorus all leading up to the anthemic refrain. The bridge is by far the most interesting part of the song and serves as a perfect breath of fresh air showcasing just how diverse this band can be in such a short amount of time. All in all, it’s all fairly straightforward music executed in a really well-done way.

The real star of The Carouser’s songs is Affatato’s voice and melody. He tells very relatable stories, and although his voice is rough, having an almost sandpaper-like quality to it, he draws you in and makes you pay attention to what he has to say. The second track “Strangers” builds further upon the foundation that the first track laid down. It’s a track that’s a bit more fun, and self-affirming than the previous song. The bridge has one of the longest instrumental sections of any song on the album, and it’s nice to hear every player shine through in such a fast-paced environment. Track 3, “Crackpot Girl” is probably my favorite song off the record. The verses are just alright, but the chorus and bridge are some of the best songwriting on the entire album. The choruses in particular have everyone working together in perfect harmony and is just so well put together and catchy, it’s almost impossible not to feel good when you’re listening to it.

“Another World,” the lead single off the EP, is the quintessential pop-punk tune. Arguably Jackle’s best song on drums, it’s a hard-hitting song that starts and just doesn’t stop. The drums and bass in the verses are some of the most interesting rhythm patterns on the record, but it’s a shame they weren’t given more room to grow. Oddly enough the very last chord of the song had me extremely excited as it’s a very unexpected ending note, and in an album that’s not trying to surprise you, it caught me off guard in a really cool way. I have a love-hate relationship with “Halloween Nights” the last song on the album. It’s the most distinct track off the record with a sort of 50’s pop vibe to it, and probably my second favorite song, but something happens about half way through that still hits me in a really odd way for about 3 seconds. The song goes through a key change suddenly and out of nowhere. Where the track ends up is a really good place, but the journey through that key change just doesn’t feel like it should be there. The way I feel about the key change is totally subjective, but the key change itself is something that stands out on the album regardless.

The Carousers debut self-titled EP is a quirky, fun, and quick throwback to what pop-punk is all about. With so many artists sounding so similar to one another, The Carousers show that authenticity and passion are just as important for music as mainstream appeal. An album doesn’t always have to be innovative for it to be great, and The Carousers have shown us the perfect example of exactly why that is true.

The Carousers: Facebook // SoundCloud // Bandcamp // Instagram // Twitter