music writing

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

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

The Perls - The Age of Isolation Review

East Coast meets West Coast with Indie Pop duo The Perls, who quite literally created their debut EP from separate sides of the country - and honestly that alone is impressive. What's even more impressive is The Perls themselves, I mean honestly I'm losing my mind right now.

Composed of multi-instrumentalist Evan Linsey and singer-songwriter Kevin Hupp, The Perls followed up their single release in 2016 with their debut EP, The Age of Isolation, released on December 29th, 2017. Kevin and Evan produced the entire album themselves despite being on opposite sides of the country (Los Angeles and Boston, respectively). The fruition of this hard work and even harder situation is an EP that blends effortlessly, creating a space for listeners to get lost in and fall in love with.

Check out the tracklist below!

Zach Turcich / artwork

Zach Turcich / artwork

The Age of Isola Tracklist:
1. The Age of Isolation
2. Play Cool
3. Anymore
4.Videos (On TV)
5. HNY

 

 

 

 

This EP is impressive from start to finish. For the first time in a while I was able to just enjoy the listening experience. The Perls have meticulously put together a collection of tracks that effortlessly exist. From mixing/mastering to lyricism to instrumental output, The Perls feel like seasoned veterans when it comes to making music. 

With each track at a little over 2 minutes, and only one being over 3, this EP flies right by you while you're listening, making it an easy EP to put on over and over again. I typically go through every track and dissect them, but The Perls made my job really easy on this one. Every track is it's own persona that sits in the same circle as the rest. While I enjoyed every track vehemently, I also had two favorites that I'd like to focus on for their sound expansion and dynamic.

My absolute favorite track off of The Age of Isolation is "Play Cool," the track has a chorus so fire it made me almost weep the first time I heard it. The Perls have impressively incapsulated this indie/folk/pop hybrid that seeps out of every moment of listening. My second favorite track, and ironically enough it wouldn't load for me so it was one of the last tracks I was able to listen to, was "Videos (On TV)." The track is so gosh darn smooth, another chorus that makes me wanna explode with joy, and just an absolute charm to listen to.

Now, of course, just because these tracks are my favorites doesn't mean the other tracks aren't - let's be real here, this EP is one of the best, well recorded and performed EPs I've had the pleasure of reviewing in quite a long time. We'll definitely be following The Perls as they progress forward, and I sincerely can't wait to hear what they've got coming out next.

Until then, The Age of Isolation is a winner.

To follow these darling pals, check out their social media down below and support their cause, you won't regret this one!

The Perls: Facebook // Instagram

Something Like A Monument - Silhouettes Review

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Psychedelic soul is something we can get behind, and Something Like A Monument are doing it just the way we like it.

The Philadelphia foursome is a force to be reckoned with thanks to their latest release, Silhouettes. The five track EP is their first output since 2014, and while it's been a long time coming, those years having given S.L.A.M. something to brag about - an EP that not only shows off their mind numbingly incredible talent, but also proves that some things do get better with age. Two years, three recording studios, and ten tracks later, Silhouettes is the first of two five-track EPs the band has planned for the next year, and gosh darn it, we are excited. 

Check out the tracklist below to follow along!

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Silhouette Tracklist:
1. Crimson Smoke
2. Tree of Doubt
3. B.L.T.B.  
4. Hours Believe
5. The Fawn

 

 

 

 

I have been complaining for a little while now that often bands who tout such a heavy and vintage genre like 'psychedelic' often have a habit of falling into a space that can feel overused or tired. Something Like A Monument have avoided this by incorporating the fundamentals of soul and psychedelic in their instrumental rhythm and melody, while their lyricism and vocal performance often hinges on a more new age indie rock - and this feels exciting in Silhouettes.

Just imagine Brendon Urie sang for Queens of the Stone Age and you've got S.L.A.M.

Opening track "Crimson Smoke" persuades the listener into the EP with the familiar vibration, the echoing voice of singer Jamie Shemanski. The twanging guitar, distorted and fuzzy from Jeff Lucci, while the constant nature of the bass, thanks to Don Custer, keeps time. The heaviness of the drums feels like the perfect amount of edge fueled by Josh Aptner. This track is only the gateway into the spiraling trip that Silhouettes makes.

"Tree Of Doubt" hits a bit heavier, flexing on "Crimson Smoke" with a vigor and prowess that pushes the EP forward. This track is one of my favorites, the culmination of sound makes the listening experience plain old enjoyable. I want to drive along a tree lined road in warm weather, windows down to this song. Six minute long giant, "B.L.T.B." is a great transitionary track, bringing it back down from the high before, while it pushes the listener vocally with a more rock & roll vibe, it fits in nicely on the EP.

"Hours Believe" and "The Fawn" close the EP out, and I don't want to say I feel a little disappointed by them, but I do. As two closing tracks, the EP felt front heavy listening wise. While these tracks excel in technique and S.L.A.M.'s typical bravado, they just feel a bit underwhelming in comparison to the tracks before them. I wonder if this could be resolved by a better EP tracklist setup, or if the EP is too long for it's own good. Obviously Silhouettes comes from a pair of EP releases, so I guess I'd be interested in hearing the follow-up EP to see if it exhibits the same problem or if this is simply just a calculative error in listing.

Either way, this EP has been on my mind for weeks. Let's get it on your mind, too. Check out Something Like A Monument via their social media links down below to never miss an update, and tune in for their next release hopefully sometime soon.

As always, thanks for reading!

S.L.A.M: Twitter // Instagram // 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

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